August 27, 2014 9:34:33 PM
Stone Sisson couldn't help but think ahead.
The rumors had just come true and Brady Davis announced he was going to transfer from New Hope High School to go to Starkville High to play quarterback his senior year.
While one school celebrated the arrival of an experienced quarterback, another was left to adjust to a new leader and a new coach.
For Sisson, who played quarterback on the freshman team before moving to catch passes as a sophomore and as a junior, it didn't take long for him to figure out where he was going to wind up.
"I was kind of thinking ahead and wondering if anybody was able to step up," Sisson said. "But I figured it probably was going to be me. I didn't see anybody else who was trying to be quarterback. I took the spot."
At 7 p.m. Friday, Sisson will be in that spot leading New Hope in its season opener against Aberdeen (1-0). While Sisson admits he will be nervous for his first varsity start at quarterback, he also said he feels he has come along way thanks to the guidance of first-year head coach Kris Pickle and believes he can lead the Trojans.
"I feel like I am ready," Sisson said. "You can do a lot of things off one play (in the offense). That is what I like about it."
Sisson said he will have to make a read on offense on just about every play. That might be a lot of responsibility to place on the shoulders of a young quarterback, but Pickle, the former offensive coordinator at Aberdeen High and the head coach at Morton, said Sisson is a "winner" and that he believes in him.
"I would rather snap (the football) to a winner than an athlete," Pickle said. "I know he is going to put us in the best position to make plays and he is not going to lose the game for us. You look for that in a quarterback. A lot of times you snap it to a great athlete and even though he can make plays with his legs, he also can put you in a bad situation. That is what we looked for in him. We knew we weren't going to throw the football 45 times a game. We wanted to put the ball in a guy's hands we felt the kids would play for. Everybody likes Stone, and he is a winner."
Sisson played wide receiver as a sophomore for coach Michael Bradley. He said he didn't get to play much because he was behind Trae Collins, who is now playing cornerback at Southern Mississippi.
Last season, Sisson played tight end for coach Shawn Gregory. Unfortunately, Sisson tore meniscus in his knee and had to have surgery, which forced him to miss about half of the season. When he played, he was mostly a blocking tight end who didn't catch too many passes.
At that time, Davis was still quarterback at New Hope High, but he said he heard talk Davis might transfer to another school. Still, he believed Davis was going to stay at the school for his senior year and he would end up playing wide receiver or tight end.
Those plans disappeared when Davis opted to transfer to Starkville High.
Pickle knew New Hope had a good quarterback in 2013, but he didn't know his name. He said he told people, "I have never taken a snap without a quarterback, so we will find somebody to play it." He said Sisson "took the bull by the horns" and took the initiative to show the Trojans he was going to emerge as a leader.
"I knew he was going to be rusty because he hadn't done it since his ninth-grade year," Pickle said. "I knew there was no doubt he was probably going to be who we were looking at to try to take the team because he had more experience than anybody. He has played since he was a ninth-grader."
Sisson said he "jumped in" to the responsibility of leading the offense. He said he has studied with Pickle and has changed his mind-set about how he could do.
"At some point, I thought there was no chance of me getting the hang of it, but coach Pickle coached me up and I started doing better," Sisson said. "(In the summer, when Pickle was teaching the offense), I was like, 'Man, I don't know if I am cut out for this.'"
Sisson said he spent a lot of time after practice and on the field developing a feel for the offense. He said there are bound to be nerves Friday, but he has all the confidence the coaches will prepare him and his teammates.
"I think we'll do pretty well," Sisson said. "You put in a lot of hard work in the offseason and over the summer and hit the weights and study on the drawing board, but my team, we'll be ready. We have worked really hard.
"It is a big responsibility. I feel like I have improved a little bit, I guess. I am a little more confident now that my coaches have coached me up."
Pickle has seen Sisson's progress and is ready to see him translate that development to the field. He saw Sisson correct a mistake in the New Hope Jamboree and not make the same mistake in the team's next drive. He hopes Sisson can make similar adjustments during the games and continue to improve.
"All of them when we first came in had that deer-in-the-headlights look," Pickle said. "They looked at me like I was crazy. I told them it was all about repetition. You can get on the (dry-erase) board and do different things with them, but, in the long run, it takes reps. The more reps they get, the more familiar they are going to get and the more comfortable they are going to get. I think one day in the spring it finally started clicking for him."
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.