Blue Devils’ Big 3Published 8:55am Wednesday, October 2, 2013
“He did better than I expected.”
That’s what Escambia County High School quarterback Chris Johnson said when he was asked how backup Gaetyn Thames performed as a starter in two games this season.
“He looked a little shaky in practice,” Johnson said, a comment that elicited laughs from both Thames and senior wide receiver Devante Williams.
Thames said he didn’t really know what helped him perform better under game pressure against Clarke County and Wilcox-Central high schools, but credited adrenaline as one possible reason.
Johnson, Thames and Williams are three of the leaders on a Blue Devil team that has endured a rough 0-4 start under second-year coach Lev Holly. All three play two sports at the Atmore school and have aspirations for football life beyond high school. Each hopes to earn a scholarship to play at the next level.
Thames said his natural position is running back, but he can spotted all over the field, filling in for Johnson and as linebacker.
The sophomore and son of Pamela Johnson said he feels more comfortable at running back, but didn’t mind filling in as the signal caller.
“I was thinking about winning,” Thames said about his mindset entering the games. “I think I did all right.”
A centerfielder for the Blue Devil baseball team, Thames said hitting the diamond is a good way to stay in shape for football season. Williams, who wants to play baseball this year, agreed, adding that running track would also be beneficial.
The three players said despite a slow start to the season, a recent game against No. 2-ranked UMS-Wright helped build confidence. Although ECHS lost that game 45-14, they led 14-7 at one point.
Johnson said it’s something the team can build on throughout the rest of the season.
“It was a real eye-opener for the team,” he said. “While there was no doubt, it let them know they can play with anyone.”
Johnson said the game against the defending state champions was their best yet.
“We all played together,” Johnson said. “It was a good team effort.”
Williams said the atmosphere in the locker room is positive, despite the rough start. Johnson said that while there aren’t that many players on the team, those who are playing work really hard.
“The small group we have now are all dedicated,” said Johnson, the son of Christopher and Melinda Johnson.
Williams and Johnson, the senior leaders on the team, said turning the ball over less would go a long way to helping ECHS right the ship.
“We need to focus more on game day and prevent turnovers, said Williams, the son of Jackie and Melvin Williams.
Johnson added that the team needs to capitalize once it gets close to the end zone.
“There are too many empty trips to the red zone,” Johnson said.
The quarterback said he’s preparing to take the ACT and is hoping for a scholarship to play college football. While he said he’d be happy playing under scholarship anywhere, he feels Auburn University would be a good place to play.
“They showed interest in me, not only as a player, but as a person,” he said. “When you go there you feel at home.”
Williams said he has talked to a scout from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, while Thames said he would like to play for the Crimson Tide.