Sophomore Cade Golden is exercising a new rule called the Tim Tebow bill, a measure enacted by the Alabama House of Representatives in 2015. The 2016-2017 sports season was the first season homeschooled students were allowed to participate in their district public school’s sports programs.
Golden is one of the first homeschooled kids to play at St. Clair High School. He is in the running to be the varsity football team’s starting quarterback this season, and his situation is so unique that Golden may be the only homeschooler in the state actively starting as QB for a public high school.
“He is a very talented player and an asset to the team,” said Matt Glover, Head Football Coach/Athletic Director at St. Clair County High School. “He is in the running for starting quarterback but we won’t make a decision until after the first scrimmage.”
Over the course of his football career, Golden has moved four times and has utilized the homeschool/public school sports rule three times. He first played backup quarterback at Briarwood Christian School as a 7th grader. Then he and his family moved to Seattle, Washington for a year due to his father’s work in the field of technology. It was during Golden’s 8th grade year in Seattle that he developed as a starting quarterback. Washington has open laws regarding homeschool and sports participation, so Golden began homeschooling and played football for the local middle school—the Coupeville Wolves.
Golden said of his time there, “I had an awesome time with my teammates and coaches, and I still miss them. I hope to go back out to Washington soon to visit.”
In Washington, Golden was fortunate enough to get invited to a showcase called the Northwest 9—an Elite 11-style quarterback camp that seeks out the top quarterbacks in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. As an invitee, Golden was named as one of the top nine freshman quarterbacks in the region. He was fortunate to camp with some talented quarterbacks including Dylan Morris, a Washington commit who just attended the Elite 11 camp in Dallas, and Sam Huard, who is the nephew of ESPN’s Brock Huard and who also took home the camp’s top honors for the freshman class. Recently, the quarterback scouting site QBHitList named Golden one of the top 125 pro-style quarterbacks in the nation for the class of 2021.
After a year in Seattle, the Golden family moved back to Alabama where Golden’s father, Michael Golden, enrolled him at the senior Golden’s alma mater, Pell City High School. There, Golden was able to take the starting position at quarterback for the freshman football team by exercising the Tim Tebow Bill, allowing him to play the game he loved while continuing to homeschool.
Golden began working out with David Morris and Ben Neill of QB Country. Morris, Eli Manning’s QB coach, works out of Mobile, so the Goldens can only make it once a month or so. On weekends, Golden likes to recruit some of St. Clair’s receivers to go workout with him and Neill in Birmingham.
Golden says, “We try to do both a one-on-one session and a group session when we go so that we get in as many reps as possible. Timing has been a weak point for me over the summer, and I am working really hard to correct that. Since we have some really fast receivers on the field, I have to work to be just as fast as them.”
Golden had a tie to St. Clair County High School before he ever set foot on campus. That tie is offensive coordinator Brooks Dampeer.
Says Golden, “It was during my fifth-grade year that I met Coach Dampeer at a city league football camp at Pell City High School. He was still the offensive coordinator there at the time, and he happened to see me throwing with another kid. He approached my dad and commented on my natural throwing motion. We became close after that.”
Golden always wanted to play for Coach Dampeer, but it never worked out. Golden’s young age and distance kept them apart. When Dampeer landed the offensive coordinator job at St. Clair County while the Goldens were out in Washington, Golden knew his dream of playing for Dampeer may finally be realized. After a year at Pell City, they moved to Odenville this past spring.
“It has been amazing!” says Golden. “I know that we made the right decision coming to St. Clair County. I am truly excited to have the opportunity to be the starting quarterback for the Fighting Saints’ varsity team this year. I love my teammates and coaches! We have a lot of talent, both on the field and on the sideline, and I am looking forward to locking down a winning season.”
So here we are now: almost underway for the 2018-2019 football season. Cade has been working and practicing with the Saints and is the running for starting quarterback for the varsity as a sophomore. His first test will be against John Carroll.
As far as the relationship between Coach Damper and Golden goes, they are as close as ever. St. Clair County High School as a whole has been very accepting of Golden. He has befriended teammates who often visit his home in Odenville to throw the football and play video games. Golden loves playing them in Madden, especially if he’s winning.
Outside of football, Golden maintains a 4.0 G.P.A. and is taking AP European History through the Georgia Virtual School. He is currently completing his classes online through the Christa McAuliffe Academy School of Arts and Sciences. His favorite subject is math. Yes, he loves to problem solve, which is a superb skill to have as a quarterback.
Even though Cade is not a full time student at St. Clair High School, he attends first, seventh, and eight period every day. The goal for him is to graduate playing for SCCHS. Next summer, he will hit the Northwest Region again to participate in more QB camps in Seattle and surrounding areas.
The first game of the season for SCCHS will be against John Carroll on Aug. 24.