There were two young quarterbacks on opposite sidelines Saturday afternoon at Old Boys High Field. One — Curtis sophomore Prince Dukes — entered with plenty of hype, while Boys & Girls’ Keon Marsh was basically an afterthought.
They reversed roles in Week 1.
While Dukes struggled, throwing four interceptions with one taken back to the house, Marsh flourished in his first varsity start. He ran the Kangaroos’ Wing-T attack to perfection, leading The High to a shockingly dominant 40-12 victory over Staten Island powerhouse Curtis in the two teams’ Public School Athletic League City Championship division opener. He completed all three of his pass attempts for 79 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a score.
“I was talking to my brother [wide receiver Akeel] before the game, that it’s gonna be a quarterback battle,” Marsh said. “A lot of people think [Dukes is] the best quarterback in the city. I’m gonna show them.”
He certainly began to make a name for himself.
Marsh was content to watch and learn on the varsity level as a sophomore. He spent the year imagining what he would do under center, when all eyes were on him. He saw the Boys & Girls quarterback make mistakes and he pictured himself on the field doing the opposite.
“We could’ve put him in last year, but it was better to have him watch then throw him right in the fire,” said recently promoted head coach Clive Harding, Marsh’s uncle.” When it’s all said and done, he’s gonna be one of the best quarterbacks in the city.”
It was that rushing touchdown that set the tone, starting a string of 28 unanswered first-half points. On 2nd-and-10 deep in Curtis territory, he perfectly sold a play-action fake and darted around the left end untouched from 17 yards out. Marsh actually lobbied for Harding to call it the previous possession because of how aggressively Curtis was going after the run.
“It felt like we were back when I scored,” he said. “I knew it was over for them.”
On the ensuing possession, Marsh again froze the Curtis defense with a play fake, only this time he rolled to his right and hit John Courcelle in stride for a 28-yard score.
“That’s something we work on a lot and he executed it,” Harding said.
Marsh capped off a stellar afternoon with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Miller on a throwback screen, the junior again selling a misdirection play like a veteran would. Harding was hardly surprised by his nephew’s execution – he’s seen it for years when Marsh played Pop Warner football with the Rosedale Jets – and he impressed teammates with his cool demeanor.
“He’s smooth, calm,” Courcelle said. “Soon people are gonna start talking about him.”
Harding, the newly crowned head coach, would prefer they didn’t. He doesn’t mind his nephew catching people by surprise.
“That’s good – that’s what I want,” Harding said.
It may be hard to keep him a secret any longer.
“I showed people I can get it done,” Marsh said. “Past few years Boys High didn’t have an efficient quarterback. Now we do.”