Mary Persons football coach Brian Nelson said quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s most impressive skill is his ability to throw accurately on the run.
Nelson’s team led Cartersville 17-14 in the first half of their Class AAAA semifinal playoff game three weeks ago. Cartersville faced a third-and-long, and observers were beginning to wonder if the junior quarterback and his No. 1-ranked Purple Hurricanes were as good as advertised. They were heavily favored.
“We flush him to his right; he got all the way to their sideline, reversed field, made a couple of really good football players miss, came all the way back to his left, and threw a 30-yard strike in the back of the end zone for a TD," Nelson said. “I just kind of shook my head and told our coaches upstairs, ‘Not much we can do about that.’ "
Cartersville won the game 38-17 and then the state championship the next week, the second consecutive for Lawrence and his team.
"Yes, he is as good as advertised," Nelson said.
Lawrence, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s all-classification player of the year, isn’t there yet, but he is passing and winning at rates that could make him the most highly decorated Georgia high school football player in history in another year.
Only a junior, Lawrence was 250-of-406 passing for 3,904 yards and 51 touchdowns with nine interceptions this season. He needs 2,477 yards and 40 touchdown passes as a senior to break the Georgia career records of 13,077 and 159 held by former Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson.
As a college prospect, Lawrence is the consensus No. 1 player nationally in the 2018 graduating class. He committed to Clemson days after the championship game.
And as much as anything, Lawrence is a winner.
He became Cartersville’s starting quarterback early in his freshman season, and his teams are 42-2 in that time. Cartersville has become the 11th school in history to achieve back-to-back 15-0 seasons and the 19th to win 30 consecutive games overall.
Cartersville was dominant this season, winning every game by at least 10 points. Cartersville beat traditional power Calhoun 56-0 in September.
“I think what sets him apart from a lot of quarterbacks is his ability to make plays with his feet while keeping his awareness of where his receivers are,’’ Calhoun coach Hal Lamb said. “When he has to scramble, he may be as good as I’ve seen at keeping his eyes downfield and making the unbelievable throws to open receivers. Also, his pocket awareness is excellent."
Woodward Academy coach John Hunt echoes those statements. His team lost to Cartersville 26-15 in the quarterfinals.
“He can also run very well, surprisingly fast for someone as long as he is," Hunt said. “His ability to scramble and extend plays is what sets him apart. He can create. Superb ability to find open receivers on the run. Certainly his height [6 feet, 6 inches] helps in that regard."
Hunt also loves Lawrence’s demeanor.
“No flash or showboating," Hunt said. “In this day and age, all kids see on TV are players trying to bring attention to themselves. It is refreshing to see a player as great as him just go about his business carving up defenses and then go celebrate with his teammates."