Bryant Weber only wanted to accomplish two things in his senior season in high school football.

“I wanted us to make the playoffs, but the big thing was the conference,” Weber said. “Things were looking a little bumpy – it came down to a 0-2 in the beginning – but once we started putting things together and putting our line together, we started to click and finished the season 7-2 and made it in the playoffs.”

“We’ve talked all year about non-conference being what it is, but we could still achieve our goals by doing that in conference play,” added Cumberland head coach Lucas Watkins. “We won seven games in a row and the conference right off the bat and Bryant was a big play in making that possible for us.”

Given that the key starters graduated a year earlier, many might have thought that that goal was far-fetched. Many might have thought that the Pirates football team 2022 would have been a rebuilding season.

Not weaver. He had other plans.

The left-hander finished his season by throwing for 1,784 yards on 103 of 173 pass and 21 pass touchdowns and led his team to a berth in the IHSA Class 1A playoffs after a 7-2 record in the regular season.

Overall, Weber – the Effingham Daily News Most Improved Football Player of the Year 2022 – said he was happy with those numbers.

“I was really happy (with those numbers). Different things came up,” said Weber. “My recipients did a great job of getting me to this point and being there whenever I needed them.”

But what also helped Weber enormously was his innate ability to dissect an opponent’s defence.

“My game is firmly on the passing side. I can move but I like to wait for plays and read defenses to see what I can get so we can make these big plays because I would take a deep ball for 30 yards instead of a scramble at eight” Weber said, “Reading defenses incrementally throughout the game got me to where I was passing more.”

Weber added that his ability to do so will only benefit him in the future.

Weber plans to play college football and will announce at Cumberland High School on February 1.

“It’s always going to help me when it comes to offenses, which are more about reading a defense than a quarterback that’s running a lot more than he’s passing,” Weber said. “If it’s about throwing more than passing then I should be able to excel in that area with good pocket presence and the ability to read a defense.”

Overall, Weber’s style differs from quarterbacks before him.

Early in the season, Watkins knew this, which drastically changed Weber’s value to the team.

“We spoke to him about his value to the team and didn’t put ourselves in danger. Whenever we ran the ball, we had to keep it healthy. The kid has been in the system for four years and understands the offense, understands what we’re trying to do. That was one of his best qualities.”

Although Weber is different, he shares a hard work ethic with his predecessors.

That alone is no coincidence.

“The quarterbacks that we had put in a lot of time and effort,” Watkins said. “Bryant has been a quarterback since he was four, so it takes a lot of effort. In recent years we have been fortunate to have children who have worked and developed to compete at a high level.”

Leadership also played a role in this.

Watkins went further, calling Weber the team’s “point guard.”

“You hear the analogy that the quarterback is your team’s point guard and only he understands the offense and what’s going on; he distributed the ball superbly,” said Watkins.

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