CAPE CORAL — Charlotte High’s rising junior quarterback John Busha is entering his first summer as the projected starter with the Tarpons after the graduation of Sun Player of the Year Alex Muse.
After missing the spring game with an injury, Busha got his first real action of the summer in a 7-on-7 three-way with hosting Island Coast and Cypress Creek on Tuesday.
In his first two games of the morning, he threw five touchdowns on six drives with no interceptions. Charlotte and Island Coast ran a second scrimmage later on, but it was cut short due to lightning.
“We’ve done 7-on-7 in practice, but this was our first time playing against another school,” Busha said. “I think I played pretty good, just missed a couple of throws here and there. Just gotta keep on putting in the work and getting better.”
In 7-on-7 football tournaments, a team’s quarterback play is key. In a setting geared more toward the offense, it may be the most important position.
This style of game play is set up with no pass rush and only linebackers and defensive backs on defense, so the field opens up for quarterbacks and allows for better vision and decision making.
It’s a prime opportunity to develop a better rapport with receivers.
Busha seems to have built an immediate connection with receiver Freddie Fletcher, who finished just shy of the lead in receiving yards last season. Their cohesion showed on Tuesday.
Fletcher caught three of Busha’s five scores, including two well-placed fades, which he high-pointed, and a deep pass down the sideline from roughly 25 yards out.
Having two starts under his belt as a freshman late last year, Busha has a good feel for his pass catchers. Now it’s more about strengthening that bond ahead of what could be a breakout year.
“(Fletcher) is always someone I can rely on,” Busha said. “He has great hands and runs great routes. He is going to be a really big problem for defenses this year.
“I got a little bit of work with them last year, but we’ve been working on our timing since spring. (Having those two starts) helped me a lot because I then knew what I had to work on in the offseason to get ready for next year.”
Score wasn’t exactly kept as it was just a friendly matchup, but it was a strong showing overall for the Tarpons, who are gearing up ahead of a big weekend at the USF tournament on Saturday and Sunday.
Enjoying a more lax environment than Charlotte will see at USF, coach Binky Waldrop knows the importance of getting as many reps as possible.
“No. 1 it’s fun for them to do,” he said. “It’s great work. We made a lot of mistakes, but that’s why you come do an informal one before you go do something big with referees and all that stuff. We want them to get better as we go.”
Defensively, Charlotte only allowed two scores in its first two games and Joshua Pitts-Torres brought down an interception early against Island Coast.
Outside of scheming and getting a feel for the game, Waldrop likes the conditioning his guys get in a more enjoyable setting — even if they don’t realize it.
“It’s an excellent conditioning tool,” Waldrop said. “The kids don’t think about it. We run everyday in the summer and we lift and they don’t like it. But they come out here and do this and run twice as much and they don’t complain about it and don’t think about it.”
Charlotte will compete this weekend at USF and also has a 7-on-7 scheduled with Venice at the end of the month.