EUREKA — Junior Sam Durley said he’s taken off 10 pounds since last season, trimming down to 240. Maybe that will stop some of his Eureka College football teammates from calling him Jared Lorenzen.
Lorenzen was the former beefy quarterback known as “Hefty Lefty” during his playing days at Kentucky and later as an NFL backup.
Durley, who never quite approached Lorenzen’s sizeable girth, is the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback for the Red Devils heading into this season. Coach Kurt Barth wants the 6-foot-5 Durley to run with it.
“We need him to step up as a threat running the football,” said Barth. “He’s always had the ability. For him it comes down to accepting that as a role he has to do as opposed to thinking he just has to throw the ball.
“He’s a big, strong kid. Most linebackers we play, if they want to take him on head up, he can probably run through them.”
Barth saw Durley turn into a dual threat late last season, helping the Red Devils win two of their last four games after opening with six straight losses. Durley threw for 1,994 yards and 12 touchdowns, but also had 12 interceptions.
During the offseason, Durley said Barth had him doing a lot of footwork programs.
“Last year I would either take a sack or throw it out of bounds,” said Durley, a Roanoke-Benson High School graduate who completed 47 percent of his passes in 2010. “This year I’m kind of looking to step up in the pocket, scramble and try to get the ball to the receiver on the run. I feel a lot more comfortable on my feet and feel I can make more plays than last year.”
This is the seventh year Barth and Durley have been together. It was Barth, then Eureka High School’s coach, who talked Durley into trying football for the first time instead of going out for the golf team as a freshman in the co-op program with Roanoke-Benson.
Durley began as a tight end before switching to quarterback. He’ll have even more contact this season with Barth, who has taken over duties as Eureka’s quarterback coach in his third year with the program.
“It’s a good thing I have him (Barth) or I probably wouldn’t be where I am now,” said Durley.
Durley grew up with basketball. His father, Pat, is a former Roanoke-Benson basketball coach. The younger Durley calls not lifting weights in high school his biggest regret “because I didn’t want to screw up my shot for basketball.”
At this time a year ago, Durley was battling Jordan Krone for the starting spot. Krone hurt his shoulder early in the season and didn’t come out this year. Barth said he wanted to bring in some transfers to compete with Durley, but that didn’t materialize.
“One thing Coach Barth has taught me is you can’t be satisfied where you’re at,” said Durley. “You always have to push yourself and keep yourself going or otherwise you’re not going to be better.”
For Eureka to be better, it just won’t be on Durley’s arm and legs. A defense which allowed 40.9 points and 469.6 yards per game must improve beginning with Saturday’s opener at Benedictine.
Barth is confident that will happen under second-year defensive coordinator Deric Linder, who played with Barth at Eureka in the mid-1990s.
“Looking at them they’re so much more athletic than what we have been,” said Barth. “I looked the second day (of practice) at our linebackers running on the field. They’re lean, muscular kids we have not had at Eureka, even when I played.”
Eureka College facts
Coach - Kurt Barth, 3rd season (2-year record 6-14)
Conference - Upper Midwest Athletic
2010 - 2-8 (2-5 in UMAC)
Offense: RB Corey Dawson, C Jon Deedrick, QB Sam Durley, T Mike Gruninger, G Kolton Hammond, WR Alex Hess, RB Ethan Lord, WR Cory Myers, G Jesse Sams, WR Wes Schmidgall.
Defense: DL Dan Bolsen, LB Frankie Bray, LB Jacob Carls, LB Drew Duffy, DL Josh Girard, S Mike Minehan, CB Charles Turner, DL Craig Wilson,
Special teams: PK Travis Huber, P Jordan Jefferson.
Sept. 3 - At Benedictine, 7 p.m.
Sept. 17 - Crown^, 1 p.m.
Sept. 24 - At Presentation, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 - Westminster^, 1 p.m.
Oct. 8 - At Martin Luther^, 1 p.m.
Oct. 15 - At Minnesota-Morris^, 1 p.m.
Oct. 22 - Greenville^, 1 p.m.
Oct. 29 - At Northwestern (Minn.)^, 4 p.m.
Nov. 5 - At MacMurray^, 1 p.m.
Nov. 12 - St. Scholastica^, noon
(^) - UMAC game