Warriors’ Jack O’Kelley Finally Getting His Chance at Quarterback


Mady Mertens

Wait No More: After many years as backup behind durable Dubs quarterback Wiley Hartley, this year senior Jack O’Kelley gets his turn behind center. A big challenge for the team leader will be leading the Warriors through a pandemic-impacted season.

For some athletes, being named the backup and sent to the bench can be a deflating moment. To go out there and compete to your best ability and then be told you aren’t good enough, and that someone else has been chosen instead of you, is enough to take the wind out of some people’s sails. Yet for the past three years, North Atlanta quarterback Jack O’Kelley has taken it all in stride. 

O’Kelley served as the backup to Warriors stud Wiley Hartley from his freshman year up until his junior year, and kept the best attitude he could as Hartley led North Atlanta to its first playoff sport in what felt like eons. “Being behind Wiley as a backup for 3 years was a blessing in disguise,” O’Kelley said, “He is a great talent that I was able to learn a whole lot from at the QB position,” he said. “I got to learn a tremendous amount about the QB position from just watching him and as our relationship progressed he verbally taught me a whole lot, too.” 

O’Kelley, who is a gifted athlete, never let up in his pursuit of being on the field to help the team, switched positions last season to slotback to contribute in a different way, while still maintaining the role of QB2. This season, he will return to quarterback full-time and will be the starter heading into his final season as a Warrior. However, the flashy running ability he exhibited in spots last year has not been removed from his game in the least. “You will definitely see some classic, drop-back QB play from me but our offensive coordinator and head coach, Coach Aull, does a great job putting me in a system to make all kinds of different plays with my legs and arm,” he said. 

With O’Kelley being primed for the role of starting quarterback, expectations were high as he geared up to lead the Warriors in 2020. However, the pandemic cast some doubt over the season at one point, leaving people to wonder what the season would look like after the Dubs’ first game was postponed following a team case of COVID-19. “It is frustrating with everything in the world going on, but one thing Coach Aull harps on us doing is controlling the controllables, meaning every day my teammates and I need to focus on getting better, whether it’s in the weight room, on the field, or in the film room. So that’s what I’ve been focused on, trying to block out all pandemic matters. Now that it is my time I’m more excited than ever to be the team’s quarterback,” he said. With the season seemingly back on, it is finally time for Jack O’Kelley to show people what he can do when given the opportunity of full-time starter. If Dubs fans want another successful season, then it will have to happen through the arm — and legs — of Warriors signal-caller Jack O’Kelley.