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(Enlarge) After attending a four-day football camp at Boston College in June, Century High School’s Josh Bordner was offered a scholarship there, and will become the first Carroll County high school quarterback to commit to an Atlantic Coast Conference program. (Staff photo by Matt Roth)

You might call them the "accidental" quarterbacks.

Century High School's Josh Bordner, Westminster's Andy Gilford and Liberty's Geoff Suddath didn't begin their football careers at the most pivotal position on the field.

None played the position before the eighth grade.

But each has already led their respective teams to a berth in the playoffs -- and as their seniors seasons opened this week, their presence could again help define Carroll County's role in postseason play.

From Century to Boston College

Bordner was a running back and lineman for the Winfield Cavaliers youth football team before becoming the first Carroll high school quarterback to commit to an Atlantic Coast Conference program.

When he made the Century varsity in his sophomore year, Bordner spent most of his time at wide receiver. The Knights already had a solid quarterback in Luke Wright.

But things changed in the off season.

"Coach (Tony) Shermeyer talked to Luke and I about making a switch," Bordner said. "Luke didn't have a problem with it. He was looking to play wide receiver, and it gave me a chance to quarterback the team. At the beginning, no one knew if it was going to be a good move or not."

Century went from a .500 team to the top of the county. Bordner and Wright connected often as the Knights became the first county team in 30 years to post an undefeated regular season, they won county and region titles and also made it to the Class 2A state semifinals before losing to eventual champion River Hill.

Bordner also was one of the top tacklers for Century's defense, which held playoff opponents Liberty and Middletown without an offensive touchdown.

"Josh has earned everyone's respect, because he's not just a quarterback but also plays on the other side of the ball," said first-year Century head coach Jim Holzman. "He's just as driven defensively as he is at quarterback."

After the season, Bordner started at forward for a Century basketball team that won county and region titles. The Century senior was a standout pitcher for the Knights, and many thought that he would play college ball in that sport.

But in June, Bordner attended a four-day football camp at Boston College. Eagles' assistant coach Ryan Day called him on Father's Day with a scholarship offer, and Bordner accepted. He will play quarterback for a college program that has turned out such great signal-callers as 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie and Matt Ryan, the 2008 Offensive Rookie of the Year with the Atlanta Falcons.

"I'm ecstatic," Bordner said. "The academics are really strong at BC, and my parents always told me that academics come first. It's a place where I can learn a ton."

Before he leaves for Boston College, Bordner wants to help Century reach its goals for the 2009 campaign.

"I'm looking to have a winning record and return to the playoffs," he said. "I know it won't be easy, though, because a lot of teams will want to get back at us for last year."

On the wings of an Owl

One of those teams vying for a little payback against Century might be Westminster and quarterback Andy Gilford.

Gilford was a receiver and running back for most of his childhood. He didn't play quarterback until his last year with the Westminster Wildcats' youth team.

Siblings Jimmy and Joanna excelled in athletics for Francis Scott Key, and their grandfather, Bill McKenna, was head football coach at Key years ago.

"It's encouraging to see your older siblings do well," Gilford said. "They helped me keep a positive attitude. ... I wanted to make them and my parents proud."

But instead of attending FSK, Gilford, who was home-schooled through the eighth grade, decided to attend Westminster, where his father, Jim, taught for 25 years.

After a year on the Owls' junior varsity team, he was promoted to the varsity and became the starting quarterback as a sophomore. He endured a 1-9 campaign, but gained experience that paid off the following season.

"I grew a lot from that year to last season," he said.

In 2008, Gilford led the Owls to a 6-5 season that included Westminster's first trip to the playoffs since 2005. He threw for more than 2,000 yards, and proved to be a running threat from Westminster's shotgun formation.

"He's very knowledgeable and confident," said Westminster head coach Brad Wilson. "We moved Andy up in his sophomore year for one reason: because we knew that he was going to play like we knew he could as a junior and senior. The plan really fell into place."

Like Bordner, Gilford has his eye on a possible college football career. Temple University, in Philadelphia, invited him for a visit. Gilford has also made trips to Cornell and Marist. He plans to major in video communications and envisions himself working for an independent movie studio.

Suddath gets his kicks at Liberty

Geoff Suddath was a soccer player through the sixth grade, and didn't suit up in a football uniform until two years later.

But when he came to Liberty, he had focused on becoming the Lions' starting quarterback.

With an elbow injury from baseball entering his sophomore season, Suddath served as the Lions' placekicker during his first year with the squad. While the elbow healed, quarterback Colton Weaver led the Lions to their first playoff appearance in school history.

When Weaver graduated, Suddath became Liberty's regular quarterback.

"He takes charge and shows leadership," said Liberty head coach Jeff Kent. "He's very skilled at both running and passing the ball, which is huge for us with the kind of offense that we run."

Suddath guided the Lions to one of their best offensive seasons. After starting 1-2, Liberty won six straight to lock up its second straight playoff berth. Suddath ran for more than 600 yards and threw for 1,200 more.

These days, Suddath isn't sorry that he gave up soccer to play football.

"I get to work in the best offense a quarterback could ask for," he said. "We can run any type of play through the spread."

Suddath gives much of the credit to coach Kent and his teammates.

"Coach Kent really helped our transition," Suddath remarked. "We had a decent amount of athletes who showed leadership and were able to turn the program around."

Suddath is committed to playing football in college, where he plans to major in psychology. He'll get some experience this year at Liberty as a peer facilitator.

"I like helping people solve problems," said Suddath.


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