Take the pandemic restrictions, the extra masks, the lack of practices the snow, and the ice, and add one more possible issue for the Toledo football team —
Mike Christensen doesn’t know who his No. 1 quarterback is going to be.
In a normal year, two weeks of quarterback competition would be totally fine, if not normal. But the competition to replace Duke Schaplow under center in the Indians' offense has already run that long, and instead of having more time for a starter to emerge, Toledo is staring down its (already delayed) season-opener.
“I don’t like going into that first game not being set on a starter,” Christensen said. “I like competition at that position; every year I have competitions, so I like that. But usually we have it figured out by the first week of fall football. We haven’t had the reps.”
The two participants in question are seniors Ryan Bloomstrom, a converted tight end, and Jesse Towns, who led Toledo’s JV offense in 2019 while seeing varsity snaps as a slotback.
Christensen called Bloomstrom and Towns “two different types of players,” but made it very clear that he had no intentions of running a two-quarterback system for the long run.
“I’d like to find one guy,” he said. “We’re just not there yet.”
In a shortened 2021 season, he’ll have less time to get there before the Indians are already facing their final couple of games of the season.
“We’re preparing like we’re approaching the last six weeks of the season: crossovers and playoff games,” Christensen said.
The good news for Toledo is that no matter who is taking the snaps, Christensen feels confident that he’s got five solid players up front to keep him clean, and get push in the run game for the Indians’ Wing T offense.
“We have some returning starters, and they’re pretty strong,” he said.
Senior Joshhill Tilton is back at right tackle after starting on the line last season, and he’ll be joined on the right side by senior guard Hunter Smith, who also got starting experience in 2019 before suffering an injury. On the left side, sophomore Austin Allen — who came in to replace Smith as a freshman — is back at left guard.
And around that new quarterback, Christensen has plenty of returning talent in the backfield to run with. All five of the Indians’ starters in the eligible-receiver positions are set to be seniors, and Fredd Fernandez is the only new starter in the bunch, at split end. Wing Jacob Marley looks like the early frontrunner to wind up with the bulk of Toledo's touches.
Season opener: 3 p.m. Monday vs. Rainier (WA)
Biggest game: March 3 @ Kalama
2019 Record: 8-3 (4-1 Pacific 2B River),
2019 Finish: State quarterfinals (Lost 55-0 to Napavine)
Style: Wing T
QB: Ryan Bloomstrom (Sr.) OR Jesse Towns (Sr.)
HB: Trey Rego (Sr.)
FB: Davin Kinsman (Sr.)
Wing: Jacob Marley (Sr.)
TE: Thomas Glass (Sr.)
SE: Freddy Fernandez (Sr.)
LT: Ethan McAlney (Jr.)
LG: Austin Allen (So.)
C: Damion Soto (Jr.)
RG: Hunter Smith (Sr.)
RT: Joshhill Tolton (Sr.)
LOLB: Kaden Sellards (Sr.)
DL: Hunter Smith (Sr.)
DL Joshhill Tilton (Sr.)