Lobo QB works to channel nervous energy into wins
By Rick Kretzschmar firstname.lastname@example.org
Sept. 1, 2011 at 11 p.m.
Bivins Caraway has discovered one thing about himself whenever he plays quarterback for Longview.
"I was pretty nervous when I played Marshall last week," Caraway said. "I was really, really nervous when I played John Tyler last year. I'm nervous this year.
"I think it's all nervous energy."
It's an energy Caraway has channeled well so far, and perhaps it's fuel for him to the ultimate glory in the future, a goal which just eluded his quarterback predecessors.
Caraway made a successful debut as a starting quarterback for Longview last Friday against Marshall, leading the Lobos to a 30-0 victory. This week's game against John Tyler, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in Tyler, has special significance for the junior signal caller because it's the one-year anniversary of his varsity debut for the Lobos.
It was a less than ideal baptism for Caraway. He entered last year's game in the second quarter after starting quarterback and current Texas Tech safety LaDarrin Robertson suffered an ankle injury. Entering the game with no time to warm up, Caraway finished 10-for-21 for 108 yards and two interceptions as Longview fell to John Tyler 28-14. Robertson would return the next week and Caraway rarely played the rest of the 2010 season, but he said memories from that game have stuck with him, including how to handle a difficult situation.
"I remember Spencer Borens telling me to keep my head up," said Caraway, referring to a former offensive tackle. "I think I did OK. I had a few good passes."
Caraway had a fistful of similar throws last week against Marshall, going 9-for-15 for 178 yards passing with one touchdown. This included a 40-yard touchdown strike to Eric Hawkins, in which the duo beat three Marshall defenders.
However, Caraway did fumble twice while making scrambles. It's a flaw he has addressed this week.
"I make sure the ball is in tight when I run with it," Caraway said. "It was kind of a learning experience."
It was a lesson which continues practically a lifelong education of being a quarterback. Bivins Caraway - a name he shares with his father and late grandfather - was born in New Orleans, but he moved with his family to Longview when he was two years old and has lived here ever since.
Caraway said he started playing quarterback when he was in the second grade, with encouragement from his father. His first major taste of success was when his fourth-grade team - the Mustangs - won a league title.
One of his Mustang teammates was current Longview senior receiver D.T. Jackson. Jackson said one part of Caraway's passing has been constant from the second grade on.
"He has always had accuracy," Jackson said. "I like my passes at eye level. Bivins will put it there about 90 percent of the time."
Jackson said Caraway ability for long passes improved last year, adding that in the past Caraway would sometimes overthrow his receivers.
Jackson also said Caraway has improved running the ball since last spring. Caraway said he was mainly a pocket passer growing up, but Jackson said Caraway's ability to run got better because of better intuition and speed.
Longview head coach John King said Caraway's improvement is not a surprise because he saw it coming.
"Bivins came to our summer camps in the fifth and sixth grades. He was always the best passer," King said. "He will have growing pains this year, but during the course of the season, you will see him gaining confidence."
King said Caraway could eventually play college football. Caraway said his dream colleges would be either TCU or the University of Alabama. Caraway confesses that he doesn't know what he would major in, but King said he is confident he would get a degree in anything because he is a good student.
Until then, Caraway has a team goal for Longview in mind. It's a lofty one, but it's also a target the Lobos have just missed in the last three years, after state runner-up finished in 2008 and 2009 as well a state semifinal appearance last year.
"Years from now I want people to say Bivins Caraway is the one who brought a state championship to Longview," Caraway said. "I know we've been close. I think we can finish it off."
Jackson said he has confidence Caraway's confidence, adding that his quarterback's nervous energy isn't just for game day.
"He come up here and play two-hand touch football on Saturday. He works harder than anybody," Jackson said. "With him, I think we can win state.
"His confidence is infectious."