Three is company
It’s never easy to replace a two-time state champion quarterback, but that is the task at hand for the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots as they head into the new season.
However, Patriots’ head coach, Steven Kilcrease, has what he believes are some suitable replacements in line ready to take the job.
While Trey Walters may be gone, three juniors, Nick McLaughlin, Blake Floyd and Josh Starling are all in line to fill his spot.
“They all have had really good days so far,” Kilcrease said at the team’s practice Tuesday evening.
“Each one can bring a different approach to the position for us, and regardless of who ends up at the position, all three can help (the team) in different places.”
For any quarterback to have success, he must know the offense – which is what all three have been doing during the offseason to prepare for what’s to come, according to the coach.
“All three of these guys are intelligent. They know what they have to do on the field, which is always very important,” Kilcrease said.
“Each of them has been asking questions during the summer, which is something a coach always loves to see.”
Along with figuring out the thought process with the position, the coach said the mechanics are also looking pretty good.
“They all have improved tremendously throughout the summer.
“And to go along with the ability, they all have the desire and passion to be good leaders for this team,” Kilcrease added.
As far as the three teammates are concerned, they want whoever will help the team at the position the most to win the job.
“It’s going to be tough (competition),” Floyd said. “But when it comes down to it, we have to be able to make the plays and keep our teammates positive – we’ll have to be the leader.”
This will be the first time any of the three will be taking snaps at the varsity level.
Last year, McLaughlin was a running back for the varsity squad while both Floyd and Starling did not play football in 2009.
“It’s a little nerve-racking and exciting at the same time,” Starling said. “But regardless, you got to be able to control the game.”
This will be McLaughlin’s third year playing at the varsity level.
And while it could be the first as a quarterback, he said he has learned a lot from the Patriots’ old signal caller.
“Trey didn’t let mistakes get to him,” the junior said. “He always handled pressure well and kept his cool.
“And that’s pretty important, especially, for a quarterback.”
The summer months are usually the best times to prepare for what is to come in the fall.
During the past two months, each of the three players have been preparing for their new positions thanks to 7-on-7 games with their teammates and other teams.
Even though it is not the same thing as game experience, the drills provided a good looking glass for what is to be expected, according to the Patriot players.
“It helped us develop things,” Floyd said. “And more importantly, it helped us learn to be patient.”
Starling echoed Floyd’s comments and said there was another aspect of the drills that he was able to benefit from.
“It gave us all a chance to learn the offense and the terminology – which was important for me,” he said.
Regardless of who is at the position, all three said they know they are surrounded by teammates who are going to help them along the way.
“We have to be ready to play,” McLaughlin said. “Its going to be a lot of work, but we have a great group of guys around us that are going to make things easy for us.”