Archer spread the football around well during last season’s journey to the Class AAAAAAA semifinals.
Quarterback Carter Peevy’s Gwinnett-high 179 completions and 2,565 passing yards were shared by a group of receivers, headed up by Braylen Weems, who led the county with 63 catches for 993 yards and 11 touchdowns. Part-time receivers and current Clemson defensive backs Andrew Booth and Jalyn Phillips combined for 30 receptions. Running back Semaje Banks was targeted 23 times.
All of those pass-catchers have graduated, though, leaving senior Trey Messer as the top returning target and the leader of this year’s Tigers wideouts.
“Trey’s done everything right in the classroom, and he has a great work ethic,” Archer head coach Andy Dyer said. “He plays baseball as well and had a good year this past year. Those kind of kids are going to be successful. You coach them, get them in the right position and just let them play.”
Messer also was a big factor in Archer’s passing game last season with 22 receptions for 409 yards (an average of 18.6 yards per catch) and four touchdowns, including a 51-yard TD catch from Peevy in a state playoff win over previously unbeaten Parkview.
Peevy and the Tigers said this season’s passing game will rely heavily on Messer, who joins junior Andrew Dyer as the two receivers back with the most experience.
“(Messer) knows every route from every spot,” Peevy said. “He can play any position on the field. He’s really versatile.”
The relationship between those two began in middle school, when Messer found a new position thanks to Peevy. Messer grew up as a quarterback, but shifted to wide receiver and defensive back as an eighth-grader when he played on the same team with Peevy. The two shared player of the game honors in a win over Norcross with Peevy throwing two touchdown passes, both to Messer.
Messer said he still has the quarterback skills, but the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder excels in other spots, too. He is now a college prospect at receiver.
“I didn’t think it would be really smooth (to move positions),” Messer said. “When I was on the eighth grade team, Carter was already quarterback, so I said, ‘Alright, let me try something else.' I always thought I had more skills, more things I could do to help the team than just sit in the pocket and pass. I played receiver and DB that year and it just worked out really well. We rolled with it.”
Archer has gone 23-4 the past two seasons, and Messer hopes that roll continues, too. He is excited to have a more prominent role as a pass-catcher, and wants to be a leader of a new group of receivers.
“It’s a challenge, but I’m excited about it,” Messer said. “I remember looking up to the older receivers like Braylen Weems and just picking up any techniques or skills that I could. Having to do that for the younger receivers is a new task I have to take on, but I’m looking forward to it. These kids can learn really well. They’re really smart. They already have the skills they need. They just have to do it and put it to work.”