The quarterback and head coach had finished the handshake line and stood together in the middle of the field, a fairly brief meeting of consolation that no doubt would be more intense in 30 minutes or so.
That’s when they would part in the football office or locker room area for the final time together as head coach and quarterback.
Before that, the quarterback couldn’t leave the new home field for the final team, so he had to undergo the process of friends and fans offering empathy and advice, little of which he likely heard.
Then came his brother, who started sobbing about four strides away. Then came the running back, about a half a foot shorter, and they hugged and talked through the emotion. The camera crew that had been following the quarterback off and on for the past several months maneuvered around the gathering, recording it all.
Jake Fromm’s final game as quarterback at Houston County was one of the Bears’ shortest games of the past few years, checking in at less that 2 1/2 hours. And it wasn’t easy to walk off for the final time, courtesy last week of Valdosta’s 28-24 win.
Finally, it was time to summon Fromm to do what he has done since he was about 11, and that was to talk about whatever had just happened. Final games, in any sport under most circumstances, and the aftermath can be a little tough to watch, when one understands and appreciates the effort and work put forth to play one more game.
The conversation wasn’t long, and only once or twice did it appear that emotions might win out, but Fromm stepped to the left and to the right and avoided the sack.
And we were done, one of the last of dozens of conversations.
Just like that, one of the most prolific, impressive and consistent high school athletics careers of anybody in Middle Georgia history, as well as in the state, was done. There would be no playoffs. There would be no state record for passing yards. There would be no late postseason showdown with another top-10 team and a chance to dazzle a new audience and tease even more his future audience.
As it is, he’ll have to settle for helping turn Houston County in to a state name and settle for second all-time in Georgia in passing yards and passing touchdowns, along with a few of the top 20 single-game yardage figures and single-season figures.
Fromm finished with 12,817 yards and 116 passing touchdowns, trailing Gainesville’s Deshaun Watson (now of Clemson), who had 13,077 and 159.
Fromm completed 60.8 percent of his passes and had only 28 interceptions in 1,380 attempts. Watson hit on 64.4 percent, with 29 picks in 1,458 tries.
Fromm leads the state this season with 3,910 yards and is second — behind Macon County’s K’Hari Lane — with 41 touchdown passes. Griffin’s Tylan Morton is 300 yards behind Fromm, and there are may be three or four quarterbacks who can pass him in touchdown passes with a deep playoff run.
The Georgia-bound Fromm may only have his position on the all-time list for a fairly short time.
Cartersville junior Trevor Lawrence has more than 9,300 yards and more than 100 touchdowns passing and probably has at least three playoff games left (odds are he has five), and he is a safe bet to crack the 10,000-yard mark this season and will be a safe bet — barring injury — to pass Watson in yards next season and Fromm in touchdowns.
None of which detracts from Fromm’s career.
There always has been an absurd measurement of quarterbacks that includes championships made by people who are involved in sports but apparently don’t really grasp the impact of “team” in team sports. There’s more to winning than just quarterback play, and there’s more to losing than just quarterback play. To give quarterbacks won-loss records remains pretty comical.
Sometimes, it just comes down to a break, to timing, to fortuitousness.
High school quarterbacking in Georgia is odd. Fromm is one of the very few who is high on the stat lists and was a major recruit, one of the few to go on to a Power-5 conference team.
Of the top 10 all-time in passing yards, excluding active players, only Watson has been of major impact on the top level. Hutson Mason (ninth in yards and touchdowns) started only one year at Georgia.
On the touchdowns list, Wilcox County’s Nick Marshall took the long way to play quarterback for two seasons at Auburn, but he’s a pro at defensive back.
Fabian Walker of Americus is on the list, and he started his college career at Florida State and finished at Valdosta State. North Cobb’s Tyler Queen, in both top 10s, is a redshirt freshman at Auburn who has yet to run or pass the ball, having battled injuries.
Certainly, there are no guarantees on Fromm’s future on anybody’s future.
Work duties have allowed me only occasional looks at Jacob Eason on the tube for any period of time. Nobody, thankfully, accuses me of being a homer, so I can comfortably predict a ferocious competition at quarterback for the Bulldogs, giving an outsider’s and long-distance edge to Fromm in accuracy, consistency and running ability, as well has having a phenomenal grasp of the game and of offense, which includes the ability to read defenses.
I’ve seen Fromm play close to 20 times, which means perhaps 600 pass attempts, and the number of “Oh my, that was bad” pass attempts is stunningly minimal, probably don’t need all 10 fingers to count them.
It has been one man’s good fortune to see two of the state’s best up, Fromm and Marshall, up close multiple times and in big games. Different players, yes, but equal in their ability to elicit assorted sounds effects with their skills.
With the increase in passing teams and the overwhelming number of passing camps and the summer workout routines, we’ll see somebody around here approach Fromm’s numbers perhaps sooner than most think. And there are quarterbacks in the state already knocking on that stat door.
That won’t change the fact that Fromm is one of the best that the state has ever seen. And if you never saw him, that’s what you missed.
Michael A. Lough: 744-4626, firstname.lastname@example.org, @MLoughMacon