Top Area Quarterbacks to Watch in 2020

By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)

There are many talented quarterbacks across our coverage area that features more than 60 teams. Below are some of the top quarterbacks to watch this season

NOTE: Some worthy players may appear on one of our other four football watch lists. A player can only appear on one list.

This watchlist can be found in print in the Fall O-Zone Preview Magazine available this week at all southwest Missouri Casey’s general stores.

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Alex Baker, Carl Junction
Baker lost his entire junior season due to an injury, but may be the most talented quarterback on the list. He’s a dual-threat guy with a great frame and big-time arm. Even with all the missed time and split time as a sophomore in 2018, D-I and D-II programs still are heavily recruiting Baker. He’ll be in a position battle with Drew Patterson, who passed for 1,643 and 17 TDs in his absence.

Lawson Beem, Skyline
Beem’s sophomore season was the stuff legends are made of. He passed for a Madden-like 3,078 yards and 36 touchdowns in just 11 games. Both were the fifth-highest marks in the Ozarks. He’s one of the area’s best at spreading the ball around and getting it out quick to his playmakers in space. Beem also is one of the area’s top basketball players.

Caden Burks, Parkview
Burks checks every box you could want in a quarterback. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he has a great frame for even a college quarterback. The junior signal-caller has a huge arm and can sling it from the pocket or on the move. Burks also is a threat to beat you with his legs. He put on a show against Lebanon, passing for 322 yards and a pair of scores. That will be more of the norm this fall.

Patrick Carlton, Carthage
Carlton guided Carthage to the Class 5 state championship last year, its first in program history, racking up 1,329 passing yards and 1,554 rushing yards with 38 total touchdowns. Carlton earned nearly every award possible, including Class 5 Offensive Player of the Year. He currently holds multiple Division-II offers with several Division-I programs continuing to recruit the 6-foot-2 senior.

Max Schnelle, Lockwood
Schnelle is entering his third year as a starting quarterback, which should scare everyone else. He passed for 1,246 yards and rushed for 989 yards with 28 total touchdowns. With Clay Lasater again taking over at Lockwood – and Schnelle continuing to physically mature – 2020 could see him put up crazy numbers.

Jamen Smith, Buffalo
Smith has been one of the area’s most dynamic quarterbacks, taking a program that won eight games from 2012-17 to back-to-back nine-win seasons. Smith, who has accounted for 85 scores over the last three years, put up 1,467 passing yards and 1,250 rushing yards with 39 total touchdowns. He had three games of at least three passing touchdowns and four games of at least three rushing touchdowns.

Lance Stephens, Seneca
Few guys epitomize their leagues more than Stephens; he’s the perfect Big 8 quarterback. The senior is compact, which allows him to beat you with his legs as well as his arm. He passed for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns last season. His true value lies in his ability to run the veer and make decisions. Look for Stephens to be a focal point of the multi-faceted offense.

Case Tucker, Lamar
There may not be a better runner on this list than Tucker. The bowling ball is the perfect quarterback in Lamar’s run-heavy system. As a junior, he rushed for 1,153 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Tigers have a new coach with Jared Beshore taking over, but the offense won’t change too much. Expect to see a steady dose of Tucker.

Others to Watch

Bo Banner, Bolivar
Clayton Collins, El Dorado Springs
Garrett Connell, Salem
Eli Goddard, Webb City
Michael Lewis, Waynesville
Cole Martin, McDonald County
Drew Patterson, Carl Junction
Ethan Umfleet, Monett