Sophomore settles into role as offensive leader

After four games, Chris James reflects on his progression as the starting varsity QB


Sam Bennett

Sophomore Chris James hands the ball off to senior running back Shy’Heem Mitchell. James is the first sophomore to helm the varsity squad in 10 years.

Connor Cochrane, Co-Sports Editor

The Cougars have a new face under center this year. Sophomore Chris James won the starting job this summer and has been able to keep it in the first four games this season.

James was the starting quarterback of the junior varsity team last year.

“The competition is definitely different. The way the game is, it’s a lot faster, everyone is a better athlete, the players on the field are a lot bigger, and especially for a quarterback you have to read a lot more,” James said.

Reginald Lucas, head football coach noted James’s success getting ready for varsity play.

“Chris has made an excellent transition to the varsity football team.  He is the first sophomore to start at his position from the 1st game of the season in 10 or more years,” Lucas said.

Through the first four games, James has averaged 74.5 yds per game and is 16 of 33 passing with 3 touchdowns.

James has adapted to other aspects of his role aside from what the opposition brings his way each game.

“The speaking part of the leadership role has been the hardest thing to adapt to, like talking to my offensive lineman, running backs and receivers and talking to the team at the end of practice,” James said.

Junior wide receiver Gunnar Carrigan shared his perceptions of James’s new-found responsibility and leadership qualities.

“I’d say he has improved the most this year with stepping up and being more of a leader. Like at the beginning of the year, I mean, he is a sophomore, and we are all juniors and seniors, and he has just been taking charge more and getting his offense and everyone ready,”Carrigan said.

Carrigan, who is 2 for 2 receiving on the season, credits James with being influential in his progress as a receiver.

“Chris has helped with my routes. Like, no matter if I’m running a slant, a hitch, or an out, 99% of the time he’s putting it right on the money, especially in the games. He is pushing me to be better,” Carrigan said.

James noted the importance of Joe Michhia, quarterback coach and Hancel Phipps, offensive coordinator, in the smoothness of his development and transition.

“Coach Micchia has probably been most helpful because he takes the quarterbacks in at least once a week and talks to us about the plays and reading defenses and those kinds of things, and it really helps me,” James said.

James has earned the confidence of his head coach.

Lucas said, “Chris is the best choice for our team because he was the starting JV quarterback last season and the backup to our starter last year.  I’m excited that he has the chance to lead the team as a 10th grader.”