HARLINGEN — Legendary NFL head coach John Madden once said, “If you have two quarterbacks, you actually have none.”
The quote refers to a football team playing two quarterbacks instead of sticking to the traditional one-quarterback system.
While the adage rings true among most teams, the 2023 Harlingen High Cardinals have found success using the non-traditional approach.
Led by senior quarterbacks Drew Kornegay and Randy Morales and a combined 2,679 total yards and 22 total touchdowns, the Cardinals are marching into the postseason for a fifth straight year. They are set to host the Edinburg High Bobcats in a Class 6A DI bi-district round contest at 7 p.m. today at Richard R. Flores Stadium in Edinburg.
“We’re not really competing with each other, but more like helping each other out,” Kornegay said. “We ask each other questions and make sure we both got it right because quarterback is a mentally tough position. If one of us has a bad day, the other person can pick us up and pick up the slack for the team. Luckily for Harlingen, we have two starting-caliber quarterbacks. It isn’t much like other teams where if your starting QB goes down there is a downgrade in the offense. In our case, it isn’t.”
As is the case in most two-quarterback systems, Kornegay and Morales each bring their own unique skillset to the position.
Morales is a dynamic, 5-foot-8 quarterback with blazing 4.7 speed who is able to turn a busted play into a 70-yard touchdown run. His 1,070 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns rank among the top 15 in the RGV this season.
The 5-foot-10 Kornegay gives the Cardinals a more traditional pocket passer able to dice up opposing defenses with pinpoint accuracy. He has completed 74 of 96 passes for 917 yards and five scores in 10 appearances this season.
“(Kornegay) is able to control what he can control and makes stuff look easy,” Morales said. “Watching him work on the field, it is amazing. It is cool to see a different person work with our offense and the way they explode.”
That isn’t to say one can’t replicate some of the things the other can. Kornegay has displayed his dual-threat ability as well, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns on just 32 carries.
Meanwhile, Morales possesses an arm capable of pushing the ball downfield, averaging 14.2 yards per completion this year en route to 540 passing yards and three touchdowns.
“The thing I don’t like about when they talk about Randy is when they say he can’t throw,” Kornegay said. “He is very capable of it and has shown he can control the ball. Then he’s also an explosive athlete. He can take off for 70 yards at any time and keeps a defense on their toes. The way he’s able to make something out of nothing really helps our offense out.”
The duo’s skills aren’t the only reason for its success. The players have been competing against one another since their middle school days, when Kornegay led Memorial Middle School’s offense and Morales served as QB1 at rival Vernon Middle School.
That same friendly competition has carried over into their high school years, with the duo competing against one another for QB1 reps.
That friendly rivalry has forged a bond between the two signal callers, using it to bring out their best.
“We try not to see it as enemies,” Morales said. “At the end of the day, we’re here for the same reason and that is finding a way to win for our team. The quarterback position is semi-selfish, but we’re not selfish people. We come into this and try to bring out the best in both of us. If one of us has a bad day, we’ll help each other up even though we’re going for the same position. Just being able to compete, it brings out the best of both of us.”
During the past two weeks, Kornegay commanded the Cardinals’ offense, throwing for 518 yards and four touchdowns, also adding 120 yards and one score on the ground. Morales made an impact wherever he lined up, racking up 119 total yards on 19 touches.
Harlingen High closed the regular season with back-to-back wins behind Kornegay and Morales, finishing third in District 32-6A with a 7-3 overall record.
Despite a third-place finish in district, the Cardinals are flying high heading into the playoffs, with both quarterbacks ready if and when their number is called.
“We’re just trying to go 1-0 for the week,” Kornegay said. “We want to ride this last journey as seniors as long as we can. We’re going to take care of what is put in front of us and just prepare like it is our last game, because it very well could be.”