Legendary Raiders coach and broadcaster John Madden is credited with the old football saying, “If you’ve got two quarterbacks, you have none.”
Faith Lutheran’s football team has proven to be an exception to the rule.
The Crusaders (9-3) have relied on the quarterback duo of juniors Alex Rogers and Garyt Odom to win the Class 5A Division II Southern League title and advance to the state title game. They face Northern champion Bishop Manogue (9-2) at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday at Allegiant Stadium for the title.
“They’re both great young men. They have tremendous character,” Faith Lutheran coach Mike Sanford said. “They are both team guys, and that’s been important in the way they’ve handled it. They’ve been very good with each other.”
To both of their own admissions, Rogers is more of a passer and Odom is more of a runner. Rogers has 11 touchdown passes, and Odom is tied with running back Cale Breslin for the team lead with nine rushing touchdowns, while adding seven TD throws.
At first, the quarterbacks were expecting to battle for sole possession of the job.
“When Garyt first came in I was like, ‘I have to compete with this quarterback,’” Rogers said. “But our friendship has grown, and I want to see him succeed as much as I know he wants me to succeed.”
Rogers and Odom have alternated drives under center through each game. Odom said they’ve learned from watching one another play, and it has helped the offense find its “groove” during its playoff run.
“We bring different things to the table,” said Odom, the son of UNLV football coach Barry Odom. “We switch it up for the defense. I’m more of a runner. He’s more of a passer. We switch up the tempo of the game. We bounce off each other really well.”
Sanford said the duo’s success has helped the passing game improve, but all aspects of the Crusaders’ game appear to be clicking at the right time.
Breslin has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of Faith Lutheran’s last seven games. The Crusaders’ defense has forced 15 turnovers and racked up 50 sacks.
“We love flying to the football,” senior defensive lineman Clayton McCarrell said. “Over the course of the season, we’ve been getting better every week.”
After an eventful realignment process, 5A was split into three divisions. Faith Lutheran was placed in 5A Division II, which included a Southern League and Northern League with the top class of Northern Nevada teams.
“The way (realignment) ended it up and we saw where we were, that had a lot to do with our players saying that we had a legitimate chance to be state champions,” Sanford said. “In order to be able to do something, you have to have hope that you can do it and believe you can do it. This system we have has allowed that.”
After losing its first two games to out-of-state teams, Bishop Manogue has won nine straight, rolling through Northern Nevada opponents, with its closest game being an 18-point victory over Spanish Springs in the Northern League title game.
Faith Lutheran lost in Reno to Reed 38-24 on Sept. 1. Sanford said the loss was “good” and “humbling” for his team, which has lost just one game since the defeat. He said the Crusaders will need to make plays in all three phases to win the title.
In Sanford’s third full season, the former UNLV coach said it’s been exciting to see his team improve through the season and be in a position to potentially win the school’s second state title and first since 2013 — with some of his former UNLV players along for the journey on his coaching staff.
“We have one more huge step, but just having the chance to play for this championship is a great thing,” Sanford said. “It’s very encouraging and very confirming.”
Who: Faith Lutheran vs. Bishop Manogue
What: Class 5A Division II state championship game
When: 12:20 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Allegiant Stadium
Streaming: NFHS Network (subscription required)