At the end of last season, Toll Gate football coaches penciled in David Babcock as the team’s next quarterback. In pre-season camp, when Aaron Travers and Joe Brosnahan joined Babcock in a competition, it was Travers who won the job and Babcock who moved to running back. Three weeks into the season, coaches decided both Babcock and Travers would be more comfortable if they traded positions.
Through all of that – every step of the journey back to the quarterback position – Babcock didn’t much care where he lined up.
“It sounds corny, but I just wanted to do whatever I could to help the team,” said Babcock, a senior captain.
Corny or not, head coach Matt Mancuso was happy to hear that.
It allowed the Titans to be flexible, to try some different things, and ultimately, to put their best foot forward. While it’s been a struggle all year on the scoreboard – Toll Gate is 0-6 overall – the team has made some headway in recent weeks and is hopeful that it can get into the win column before all is said and done.
Babcock leads the charge, both with his playmaking ability and with his willingness to do whatever it takes.
“That was the big thing,” Mancuso said. “We knew if we switched him to running back, he wouldn’t care and if we moved him back to quarterback, he wouldn’t care. He said, ‘Coach, I just want to play. I have no problem with it.’ Some kids just say that, but he never showed anything different in practice.”
Babcock has bounced around before. As a junior, he was a contributor all over the field, seeing time at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, as well as linebacker and defensive back.
He figured he’d settle in at quarterback this year, but things changed during preseason camp. Babcock was having some arm trouble after pitching all summer on the baseball diamond, and Travers was steadily emerging as a viable dual-threat quarterback. Travers is a junior, and Mancuso liked the idea of building an offense around a quarterback for more than one year.
The switch was made.
“David had no problem with it,” Mancuso said.
In the first two games of the season, though, the Titans couldn’t get much going. Babcock wasn’t at his best at the running back position, while Travers seemed to excel at making plays with his feet.
After a 26-6 loss to Warwick Vets, the Titans switched things up again.
“We gave it a shot, and it just looked like David felt more comfortable at quarterback and Aaron felt more comfortable at running back,” Mancuso said.
The results haven’t changed the course of Toll Gate’s season. The Titans lost 37-12 in their first game after the switch and are still looking for their first victory.
But the offense is looking more smooth every week. Last Friday, the Titans lost to Ponaganset but had their moments. Babcock made one of the biggest plays of the game when he dropped back to pass and then scrambled for a 25-yard gain that set up a touchdown.
“We haven’t put up great numbers but it looks a little better than it did early in the season,” Mancuso said. “David has made some big plays.”
He’s also helped set the tone. While the Titans have struggled, they’ve come together and haven’t packed it in. Babcock has been one of the leaders of that effort.
“He hates to lose,” Mancuso said. “The kids know it. He doesn’t like when the kids aren’t taking it seriously. He’s a true leader. He hasn’t quit on us, and I don’t think anybody has really quit on us. I think a lot of that is they look at someone like David. He’s here every day, playing hard. His shoulder’s busted up. He had a big cut on his face earlier in the season that he played through. He’s a true example of a leader.”
And wherever he lines up, those qualities are shining through.
“That whole ‘As long as you’re having fun’ thing, no way,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to strive to do better. We’ve had a tough time with it, but I think as we mature, we’ll be able to overcome the adversity. We’re a young team. We only have five seniors. We need people to want to get better. You’ve got to try hard every time.”
The Titans have just three league games left, and they’ll likely be underdogs in all of them. But their quarterback-turned-running back-turned-quarterback won’t let them stop.
“We go into every week thinking we’re going to win,” he said. “You have to. You can’t have a defeatist attitude. We want to go out and win some football games.”