October 16, 2009 8:58:00 AM
ABERDEEN -- All Aaron Andrews hears now is applause.
It wasn''t always that way for the Aberdeen High School senior quarterback.
After suffering an ankle injury in the Bulldogs'' season-opening loss to Columbus High, Andrews jumped right back into the fray against Pontotoc in week three of the season.
A 21-14 loss to Class 4A Pontotoc didn''t sit well with the people of Aberdeen, who had dreamed in the preseason of a possible undefeated run and a march to a Class 3A state title.
Things appear to be back on track, though, now that Andrews is healthy and the Bulldogs (6-2) have won five games in a row. They will try to stretch that streak to six at 7 tonight when they play host to Class 3A, Region 2, District 1 rival Mooreville.
Andrews is coming off one of his best games of the season last week in a 42-13 victory against Water Valley. Andrews was 7 of 9 for 249 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 77 yards and had a touchdown.
The numbers weren''t bad for a quarterback who played outside linebacker last season and watched Marcus Hinton run the show.
"I think we''re coming along good and that we''re doing what the coaches said," Andrews said. "I felt good and that I did what the coaches told me to do and I went through all of my reads. The offensive line did a good job. I am starting to trust my offensive line and my reads more."
Aberdeen High coach Chris Duncan said the injury set Andrews back and stalled the progress he showed in the spring and in the preseason. He admitted Andrews was "shaky" when he returned to the lineup against Pontotoc but that was only because he likely came back too soon because he really couldn''t move.
In the past month, though, he said Andrews has adjusted and is doing a better job recognizing defenses and leading the offense.
"We''re very excited about where he is and where he can be by the end of the year," Duncan said. "With him in there, we''re pretty potent on offense. I am proud of him for overcoming a lot of adversity. It makes you a better kid and a stronger kid."
Andrews said the injury discouraged him and he did his best to listen to the coaches and to learn while he wasn''t practicing. When he returned to the field, he said he felt a little uncomfortable because he couldn''t move like he was accustomed to, but he said it took him another week or so before his ankle felt 100 percent.
Now that he is at full speed, Andrews, who is 6-foot, 195 pounds, said he is excited to be able to have so many weapons at his disposal on offense.
"I feel I can lead everybody as far as they want to go," Andrews said. "If everybody works hard and just keeps going throughout the rest of the season we will make it as far as want to go."
Duncan said the players have developed more confidence in Andrews has the season has progressed. As a result, he has seen Andrews grow more confident in his ability to lead the team. He said Andrews has tried not to rush things and to stay within himself.
Hearing the grumbles from the Aberdeen fans made that a little tougher, but Duncan said that experience will help Andrews and the Bulldogs later in the season.
In fact, Duncan was most impressed with the character Andrews showed in responding to the situation.
"Most kids would not have went in there and played," Duncan said. "He did, and he did what he asked him to do. He was throw into the fire and stayed with it and didn''t complain. When you have kids like that, those are the kids you win big with."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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