MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Elijah Banks was an integral part of Martinsburg’s offense a season ago.
Then a junior, the right-handed quarterback split time with one of the more accomplished players in program history, Grant Harman, behind center.
Banks proved to be an effective passer, throwing for 861 yards in the regular season and tossing timely touchdowns to help the Bulldogs finish 14-0 for a third straight season.
Ahead of his senior season, Banks knows he’ll take on a much more expanded role with Harman no longer around.
“I have to take on more leadership than I had to last year,” Banks said. “It’s my senior year so everybody is looking at me. Last year, I could just sit back and play. This year, I have to lead the team and play at the same time, and I feel like that’s my biggest difference.”
Bulldogs’ coach David Walker is aware a lot will be asked of Banks as Martinsburg tries to attain a fourth straight Class AAA championship and eighth in 10 seasons.
“Last year, we had kind of a two-headed monster with the quarterback situation,” Walker said. “Now it’s Banks’ show.”
Banks admits there is a different feel with Harman no longer in the picture. A vocal leader who won at all costs, Harman helped guide Banks when the two were teammates.
“I could take in a lot from Grant. He’s a very vocal guy and a very friendly guy also,” Banks said. “I could always depend on going to Grant if I needed advice.”
But Banks should benefit from the Bulldogs’ returning a few standout receivers, while others at the position have the potential to be household names before long.
Banks worked on developing a better connection and rhythm with his talented stable of targets during competition in several 7-on-7 tournaments throughout the three-week period in June.
“They’re tremendous athletes and my job is easy when I have these guys,” Banks said. “All I have to do is get the ball to them and let them make plays.”
At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Banks has displayed his arm strength, which should again make Martinsburg’s offense one of the most balanced units in the state.
Still, Banks is hoping to use his legs more this season — maybe not to the extent of Harman, but as a weapon nonetheless.
“I feel like the experience I got last year is going to help take me into this year,” Banks said. “If I can run and I can throw, the defense has to stay true to both, and I feel like that’ll help our offense a lot.”