Good Counsel High School won the first annual 7-on-7 Passing Camp at the University of Maryland last Saturday. While the entire Falcons squad boasted an array of talented skills players, the 6-foot, 185-pound rising junior Zach Dancel led the Falcons. Dancel is primed to take over the vacated quarterback position left open by Tyler Campbell, who graduated and will be attending Towson in the fall.
"It has been a dream of mine to be the starting quarterback at Good Counsel," Dancel said. "I backed up Tyler all of last season instead of getting reps on JV. Now it's paying off."
Dancel looked extremely sharp all afternoon. The southpaw signal called showed a lot of poise in the pocket and pinpoint accuracy. He spread the ball around to all his targets, including the Stanford-bound Louis Young and incoming sophomore sensations Stephan Diggs and Wes Brown.
At times, the Good Counsel attack looked un-stoppable; it was simple pitch and catch, and Dancel made it look easy. Once Dancel went threw his progressions -- if all of his weapons were covered -- he would simply check down to his dependable,
sure-handed fullback Mike Nittoli.
"I was impressed by the way he stepped up when it got tough," said Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy. "He found receivers when they took away our No. 1 guy. He found ways to score."
In the championship game against Gonzaga, Dancel showed off his strong arm as he outdueled the 6-5, 190-pound Kevin Hogan, another rising prospect. The two teams will meet again during the regular season.
"It was exciting to win the championship game and be addressed by Maryland
head coach Ralph Friedgen," Dancel said. "Going 7-0 was kind of cool too."
Seldom could defenses contain Good Counsel's precise passing game on Saturday. But on the rare occasions when the Falcons were stopped -- Suitland and Wise gave them problems -- the defense stepped up. Led by a host of stars that included Young, Gilman transfer Blake Countless, Troy Gloster and A.J. Bowman, the Good Counsel defense dominated. (Virginia recruit E.J. Scott did not participate in the event due to injury.)
Dancel is primed to dominate himself this season. He spent the entire offseason lifting, working on his passing and developing a rapport with his receivers. His coaches have taken note.
"I don't know if I've ever had a harder worker," Milloy said. "Twenty-four-seven he's working on his strength, footwork, passing and understanding of the game."
One area that Dancel did not get a chance to demonstrate during the 7-on-7 event was his speed. He runs a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash and can make plays by scrambling for a few yards or rolling out of the pocket and hitting receivers on the run.
"His passing is fine, but he can run the ball, too," Milloy said.
With a big year, Dancel could follow a long line of Good Counsel players to Division I or Division I-AA. But right now he is happy that he is proving himself worthy of leading Good Counsel's offensive machine.
"I just want to lead this team," said the humbled Dancel. "Our first goal is to win the WCAC conference, and I just want to do my part. I think we have a chance to have a really good team."