Floyd's Otranto shines in QB showdown
Junior quarterback A.J. Otranto directed the Floyd football team to the Class I Long Island Championship and made a name for himself with a few pinpoint touchdown throws.
The Colonials marched to the title on the able legs of Hansen Award-winning halfback Stacey Bedell. But in between Bedell's dazzling runs were a dozen touchdown passes that caught the attention of MSG Varsity's Steve Levy, the co-founder of the Tri-State Quarterback Showdown, featuring the top 25 quarterbacks in the tri-state area.
"I had to have this quarterback from Floyd in our competition," Levy said of his made-for-TV event. "He's powerful, athletic and he's a winner. And every time he had to make a throw, he was on target."
Otranto didn't disappoint. He finished in the top five of the first QB showdown at New Rochelle High School Sunday morning. The winner will be unveiled July 17 on MSG Varsity's Channel 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Otranto, a 6-foot, 190-pound signal caller, competed in Sunday's competition a day after a grueling showcase camp at Temple University in Philadelphia.
"The timing wasn't in my best interests but I iced all the way home from Philadelphia on Saturday so I'd be ready for the challenge," Otranto said. "It was a lot of fun to compete against all the great quarterbacks in the tri-state."
Otranto was particularly happy about his radar gun performance in which he fired the third-fastest time of the group at 52 mph.
"The fastest throw was by P.J. Walker at 57 miles per hour but I was very pleased with my velocity," Otranto said.
Levy, who quarterbacked at California and now works as a TV analyst for MSG Varsity, thought Otranto had an outstanding event.
"A.J. Otranto is so physical and he had a great spin on the ball," Levy said. "He had good arm speed, solid technique, quick feet and a pocket presence. He really rose above the competition."
Lawrence record-breaking quarterback Joe Capobianco also had a great experience at the event. The sophomore, who passed for 541 yards and seven touchdowns in the Class III Long Island Championship game against Sayville, finished in the top 10.
His velocity was clocked at 50 mph.
"I threw the ball very well but my distance could have been better," Capobianco said. "I hit three of the four targets in the Roo event. And Phil Simms spoke to me about mechanics and not trying to force stuff and relax."
The event was hosted by former Giants quarterback Simms, who judged the competition, along with MSG Varsity football analyst and former Giants receiver Amani Toomer.
"I was a little nervous," Capobianco said. "I was the only sophomore to make the second round. I learned a lot and it showed where I rank among the top quarterbacks in the tri-state."
Kevin Olsen of Wayne Hills, N.J., widely considered one of the best prospects in the country, who's already committed to play at Miami next year, was solid in the elimination round but failed to make the top 10.