Cade Van Raaphorst is leaving his options open.
He has a verbal agreement to play lacrosse at Duke on a partial scholarship in 2015. He is grateful, proud, and ready to head to North Carolina once he graduates from Desert Vista.
Now that Dan Hinds announced on Tuesday that Van Raaphorst is the starting quarterback for the Thunder, he seemingly has two years to see what kind of offers he might garner on the gridiron.
“Once it is football time lacrosse doesn’t get in the way,” Van Raaphorst said. “It’s definitely an achievement I am proud of and it is a reminder that if I put my mind to something I can do anything. I am dedicating myself to football right now and it’s my priority.
“Who knows if I want to do something else in my future. It’s an open door.”
It opened after Matt Young graduated and the competition to replace him at quarterback started in the spring with Desert Ridge senior transfer Brendon Smith and sophomore Alex Farina, who will be the starter on junior varsity.
Van Raaphorst was tabbed as the starter after a good showing and a seemingly better fit in some tweaks to the Thunder’s offense.
“We have some good quarterbacks and we are really fortunate,” Hinds said. “Cade Van Raaphorst showed a lot of growth and improvement. He has grown physically, too. What it really came down to is his ability to run real well.
“With what we are going to do, run offensively this year, we are going to need a dual threat quarterback and we think Cade is the best option.”
Smith, who completed 36 percent (14 of 39) of his passes with one touchdown and four interceptions for 298 yards in limited action with Desert Ridge last year, isn’t done competing yet, knowing he is one play away from being counted on as QB1.
“I’ll give you everything you got, play with a lot of heart and play to win,” Smith said before Hinds announced his decision. “I will do my best to do that. No matter what people say or think.
“I am just going to keep working hard, support my team, and if I get an opportunity to play I will be ready to go.”
Van Raaphorst, who played tight end and linebacker early in his career, said having to fight for what he wanted only made it easier to work hard and push himself to be better.
“I’ve always liked competition and it pushes me to be better,” he said. “I can’t expect anybody to hand me a spot and I wouldn’t want it that way. My dad has always taught me to fight for the things I want.”
Now that he has it, Van Raaphorst feels he has the formula to make sure he is the quarterback for the next two years.
“I need to keep consistent, be a leader on the team, and know the offense better than anyone,” he said. “Not only my position, but the offense as a concept.”
Winning helps too, and his dad, Jeff, knows a little something about that as the only Arizona State quarterback to win a Rose Bowl.
The younger Van Raaphorst has been around the game a long time and has had a personal quarterback coach for years. Many athletes who have accomplished parents in the same sport have an advantage simply because of genes and the one-on-one attention they usually get.
“He falls into that category,” Hinds said. “Kids who have that type of background usually have two advantages. They have an overall understanding of the game and a confidence about them that comes from being around the game so much.
“Cade is going to be just fine.”
After all, the last time Hinds and his staff picked a junior (Hunter Rodriguez) over a senior it led to 23 wins and a state title.
“Anything can happen and we feel good with Cade as our guy,” Hinds said. “We have a lot of talent around him and he is leader everyone is drawn to.”
• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.