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Jon or Jake?

Story first appeared in the April 23, 2015 edition of the Edinboro University Spectator, which was distributed on campus and around the town of Edinboro.

Jon Girvin. (Contributed Photo/Edinboro University Sports Information).
Jon Girvin. (Contributed Photo/Edinboro University Sports Information)
Jake Sisson (Contributed Photo/Edinboro University Sports Information).
Jake Sisson (Contributed Photo/Edinboro University Sports Information).

Edinboro football undergoing quarterback competition to decide starter for upcoming season

This fall something will look a bit different with Boro football. It will be the first time in a decade that a player with the last name of Harris is not the opening week starting quarterback for Edinboro.

The question now is, who will that starting quarterback be?

With the graduation and lack of eligibility remaining, Cody Harris’ career as a football player at Edinboro is over, thus ushering in a new starter and essentially a new era.

Dating back to the 2006 season, a member of the Harris family tree commanded Boro’s offense. From 2006-09, it was older brother Trevor under center, who is now enjoying a successful professional football career, most recently with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Younger brother Cody assumed the starting gig in 2010 and has been the starter since, except for most of 2013 when Jon Girvin, remember him for later, took the reins while Cody was sidelined with an injury.

With running the Harris well dry, head coach Scott Browning and first-year offensive coordinator Vinny Marino are having an open quarterback competition for the starting job.

The top two competitors vying for the job are sophomore Jake Sisson, who was Cody’s backup last season, and Girvin, who has transferred back to Edinboro, after a one-year hiatus. Additionally, other recruits will get a chance as well.

Sisson is a six-foot, 205 pound native of Jamestown, New York. He appeared in seven games last season, with one start, a 29-7 loss to eventual PSAC-champion Slippery Rock on Nov. 1. The engineering major was 19-40 passing with three interceptions and one touchdown, a 76-yard heave to Darren Massey during that start against SRU.

Girvin is a 6-foot-5-inch, 230 pound native of Avalon, Pennsylvania. Girvin’s 2013 campaign with Edinboro was his redshirt-freshman season, he should transfer back in as a redshirt-sophomore this upcoming season, losing no eligibility. In ’13, Girvin appeared in nine games, went 119-280 passing, with seven interceptions, and amassed 1,448 yards. He tallied seven touchdown passes. Additionally, he gained 150 yards and five rushing touchdowns, tied for the most on the team that season.

With more than half of spring camp in the books, Marino is pleased with both guys so far.

“They both are doing well,” Marino said in his office last week. “Right now, the biggest thing is for them to understand the offense and the subtle and not-so-subtle changes we have made. They are starting to do that. We’ve tried to go at a slower pace.”

Understanding the offense is a huge building block and component of the competition, an area where Girvin may have an advantage, according to head coach Scott Browning.

“They are learning a new system, but in the same token, it has been a system that we have learned in the past,” Browning said. “Girvin has a year under his belt in that system. With that being said, coach Marino is going to bring in his own flavor to the offense.”

While Girvin may have the “X’s and O’s” advantage, Sisson may have the edge elsewhere.

Browning assessed both quarterbacks’ skills last week.

“Jon Girvin is a big guy that has a strong arm, however, not to say that Jake doesn’t have a nice arm as well and maybe a little more mobility too.”

Apparently, the ability to run, is what Marino likes in a quarterback.

“I always feel that a quarterback that can move is big,” Marino said. “To me, I call that 12 on 11 football. If a quarterback just sits in the pocket, that is what a defense wants. That puts a lot of pressure on your offensive line, your pass protection and your receivers to get open, but if you have a kid that can move, not necessarily a running or option quarterback, but just a guy that can move, break a defense down and extend plays, that’s key.”

During spring camp now and in training camp this summer, Marino mentioned the three main criteria he is looking at is how each quarterback is learning the system, how they are as leaders of a football team and how efficient they are moving the offense.

So far, according to Marino, competition is neck and neck.

“Neither guy has separated himself from the other guy,” he said. “They both are doing well, but neither one has jumped ahead of the other that much. I think in the first two weeks of [training] camp, we will see that. We will be in a lot of scrimmage situations and that will give us a better understanding of where we are going.”

Marino also stated that he doesn’t foresee making a decision on a starter until 10 days or even a week before the season opener, which is against St. Joseph’s (Ind.) on Thursday, Sept. 3 at Sox Harrison Stadium.

The end of spring camp and the grueling training camp this summer will answer all the questions and leave Edinboro with a clear-cut starting quarterback for the 2015 season, unless it doesn’t.

“Ultimately, coach Browning will have the ultimate decision, but I wouldn’t be opposed to, if we had to, maybe play two quarterbacks,” Marino admitted. “If we feel that each guy, their strengths together, makes one solid position and they each have things they do very well, then I’m not opposed to doing that. I’m not saying that is going to happen, but we will find out where we are at come the middle of August.”

All that is known now is that it won’t be a Harris.

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