Freshman QB racks up wins

After coming in relief of senior quarterback AJ Miller, true freshman Keagan Armitage has continued to light up opposing defenses, racking up two wins in his two starts, 821 yards and 11 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He’s completing over 60% of his passes and has become ‘the man’ on the offensive side of the ball.

“He’s stepped up every game, and keeps getting better,” Yellow Jackets head coach Jim Hilvert said. “He’s doing a great job of delivering the ball, he’s only thrown two interceptions and he’s extending plays with his feet and making plays. The kids believe in him.”

Even with this new role though, Armitage said he has been preparing for his opportunity, “I have always, going all the way back to high school prepared each week like I was the starter. I was always told I was just one play away from getting in,” Armitage said. “I felt that I always had to be prepared for anything. Quarterback is a unique position. There can only be one on the field at a time, so you always have to be mentally and physically ready.”

Armitage came in after Miller was injured on the first drive of the Yellow Jackets’ game against Heidelberg. Armitage passed for 229 yards and four touchdowns and was also named the Yellow Jacket Shrine Classic Player of the Game.

With Miller out, Armitage earned his first start, and win, a week later on Homecoming, as the Yellow Jackets hosted the Capital Crusaders. Armitage amassed a career high 310 passing yards and added three more touchdowns. After the bye week, Armitage and the Yellow Jackets traveled down to Muskingum. Armitage passed for 282 more yards and another four touchdowns.

Even before he took his first snap, Hilvert knew what he was going to get “He’s been gifted with a great arm,” Hilvert said. “He also makes plays with his feet and the more experience he gets, the better he will get. I think each game he’s going to keep getting better.”

In high school, Armitage was Ashland’s team captain, their MVP award recipient, and was an All-Ohio first-team selection. But he says college football has some differences, “At first it was a bit of a challenge. More of an adjustment than anything to the speed of the game,” Armitage said. “Eventually the game started to slow down, and I felt comfortable with everything.”

Armitage isn’t the only player stepping up for the Yellow Jackets though.

Over the three-game stretch, wide receiver Iyan Mitchell has caught five of Armitage’s touchdowns, and his season totals of six touchdowns, and 534 receiving yards lead the team. “He’s getting into that mode,” Hilvert said. “I thought he had a great game overall with his alignments and making big plays and if he can keep building then the sky is the limit for these next four games.”

As time passes by, and the seriousness of Miller’s injury is determined, he has embraced a bit of a different role.

“He’s a great guy to be there for Keagan to bounce things off,” Hilvert said. “I think that’s a huge help.”

Even Armitage has seen the impact that Miller has had on the team, while off the field.
“When AJ left the Heidelberg game I felt like I had a responsibility to the team and to him to step up and not let them down,” Armitage said. “Honestly I would not have had any of the success without all of AJ’s help and all of my teammates and coaches believing in me.”

In addition to the offensive spark, the defense found it’s footing as well. After being held without a turnover before the bye week, BW’s defense forced five in two games, and is averaging over 2.5 turnovers per game. “When we’re on, we do some really good things defensively,” Hilvert said. “That game against Capital we really got after the quarterback with our blitzes, and pressured him big time.”

BW still has one of their biggest matchups ahead of them as they will host #13 John Carroll to end the regular season, the team knows that you still must take it one week at a time. “These next teams are going to continue to shoot at us,” Hilvert said. “Wilmington is a good team, and you can’t take them lightly. We have struggled to play them the past two years, so we need to come out and put four quarters of football together and continue peaking at the right time.”

BW still has three games between them and JCU, so Armitage said staying focused is as easy as remembering the team’s motto ‘One More.’ “You have to be able to only focus on the opponent this week because you never know what could happen on a Saturday,” Armitage said.  “I think it goes on us as the players to make sure we are all working hard each day, doing our job and to focus on the opponent that week.”