October 16, 2018 9:59:35 AM
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
MACON -- Kyziah Pruitt doesn't feel the pressure.
Instead of seeing a position change as an undue burden, the Noxubee County High School standout views his move from wide receiver to quarterback as his responsibility.
In fact, early last week, following a 27-26 loss to Class 4A, Region 4 rival Louisville, Pruitt asked Noxubee County coach Tyrone Shorter if he had considered moving him to quarterback.
Shorter had thought about making a change, even though he continues to believe in junior quarterback Khristopher White. But Shorter has opted to take a page from other coaches in the state and to put the football in the hands of his best players as much as possible.
It's hard to dispute the immediate results Pruitt delivered Friday night.
Pruitt, a Mississippi State commitment, had 12 carries for 123 yards. He also caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from White as part of a 62-27 victory against Kosciusko.
For his accomplishments, Pruitt is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
"I just felt like that was the best way I could help the team win at that time," Pruitt said. "I just feel like with the ball in my hands we always have a chance to win."
Pruitt said a move to quarterback has been on his mind for a while. He said he played quarterback a little last season in the team's victory against East Central in the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State title game. Pruitt said he always has "played" with the coaches and joked that he needs to play quarterback. But he said he liked taking charge of the team and that he enjoyed playing quarterback more than wide receiver because the ball is in his hands all of the time.
Still, though, Pruitt said he didn't want to come across as selfish, which is why he wants to help rally everyone behind him. He said his teammates did their jobs and were blocking on the edge and up front to send the Tigers to their highest scoring game dating back through at least the 1994 season.
"With my energy, I am always trying to pick everybody up," Pruitt said. "I am one of the leaders on this team, so when we are going good, everything is going good and everybody wants to block better, catch better, snap better. When we are winning, there are no problems, so I just hope when I am back there we are always winning so we can keep it going."
The win helped Noxubee County (4-5, 1-1 Region 4) erase some of the sting from the loss to Louisville, which ended the program's 30-game winning streak in the region. It also means there is a possibility the Tigers would have to return to Louisville to take on the Wildcats to advance to the Class 4A State title game.
Shorter admitted he was a little "disappointed" Pruitt didn't touch the football more in the game against Louisville. He said the package Pruitt ran last season already was in place and he decided to go with it against the Whippets.
"Everybody was doing their job. They were blocking, catching, and having fun," Shorter said. "For him to come back and to do what he did at the quarterback position is just a plus for us. When you have a game-breaker like that, you have to put the ball in his hands."
Noxubee County has regular-season games remaining against Leake Central and New Hope to help Pruitt grow more comfortable in his dual role. Shorter believes forcing opponents to game plan for another wrinkle will take the pressure off players like White and senior running back Ja'Qualyn Smith. He feels it also will open opportunities for other players and looks because defenses likely will key on Pruitt when he is on the field or under center.
Pruitt said he won't get on his teammates every play, but he will hold his teammates accountable. He said remembers what former West Point High School standout Marcus Murphy, former Starkville High standout Willie Gay, and former Clinton High standout Cam Akers did at quarterback for their teams. Pruitt said he can do the same things and keep defenses honest by throwing the ball, too. He said he welcomes that pressure and never contemplated not speaking up coming off an injury.
"It is bigger than football," Pruitt said. "I understand some of the guys I am playing probably won't play football after this year, so I want them to go out with a bang and them to have memories of us giving it our all and trying to make it. I also want to help Noxubee County keep the tradition going."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.