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Pilot Point quarterback Jacob Pitts poses for a portrait at Pilot Point High School, Friday, August 16, 2019, in Pilot Point, Texas

When Danny David was hired as Pilot Point’s coach almost three years ago, the former Bearcat had a critical decision to make.

Pilot Point already had an experienced quarterback in senior Quincy Kemp, but he was slated to graduate in a year. David valued Kemp’s experience, but he also wanted a quarterback he could develop.

David didn’t have to look far to find one.

Kemp’s cousin, Jacob Pitts, was coming off a 2016 campaign in which he was the district newcomer of the year as a freshman. There was just one problem.

He was playing wide receiver.

“Coach David came in and he asked if I could throw,” Pitts said. “I threw a little bit, and then he changed my position. He wanted to get comfortable with me because I was going to be here longer than my cousin was.”

Just like that, the cousins swapped roles.

Pitts became Pilot Point’s starting quarterback, while Kemp moved to running back and wide receiver. The Bearcats haven’t looked back since.

“Jacob was just a natural at quarterback,” David said. “His cousin was going to be the quarterback, and he was going to be a senior and Jacob was going to be a sophomore. Well, my thinking was, ‘I’ve got this kid for three years.’ I feel like it’s paid off.”

It has.

Pitts was a first-team all-league selection in a highly competitive District 4-3A Division I last year after accounting for 2,454 yards and 23 touchdowns. He threw for 1,481 yards and 11 touchdowns, completing 59 percent of his passes in just his second season at quarterback.

Pitts’ rapid growth was unquestionably the main reason the Bearcats improved from 3-8 in David’s first year to 7-4 in 2018.

“Jacob is what makes it go,” David said. “He’s the kind of kid that if you get him in space, he’s hard to deal with. We’ve also got some athletes for him to throw to. Now, [defenses] really have to play the whole field.”

Pilot Point averaged 26.3 points and 331.7 yards per game last year, numbers that should go up this fall. With two years of experience under his belt, plus seven other returning starters on offense, the Bearcats are primed for what could be a historic year.

“I’ve gotten pretty comfortable knowing coverages and where defenses line up,” Pitts said. “It’s getting easier, and I’m more comfortable in the position now than I was my junior and sophomore year.

“We already have a lot of stuff down and are farther along than we were in past years. I think we’re going to make a big run this year.”

Pitts will have a talented supporting cast to help Pilot Point make that run.

The Bearcats return starting running back Javon Bruce, as well as three of the team’s four leading receivers. Up front, senior Brandon Fangman and juniors Troy Tincher and Caleb Holloway anchor the offensive line.

Defensively, Pilot Point will lean on linebacker Connor Lynch.

Pitts hopes to lead that group as he looks to guide Pilot Point to its first playoff win since 2014, a four-year drought that has left a community with a rich football history longing for postseason success.

“Everyone in our community is at the games on Friday nights,” Pitts said. “I would love to see how everyone would react because everybody loves football around here. It would mean the world to everybody.”

REECE WADDELL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.

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