STILLWATER, Okla. —
Braxton Noble knows a thing or two about pressure. He faces it every time he takes a snap as the new quarterback for the Stillwater High School football team.
Friday, Noble faced a different kind of pressure — this one coming from Broken Arrow’s defense in the Pioneers’ first scrimmage of the season.
“It was challenging,” Noble said. “I wouldn’t by no means say I played well in my book. I made a lot of mistakes. I had a couple good plays, but really you have to give the credit to the offensive line, the wide receivers and the coaches. The coaches called the right plays at the right times, the receivers made the plays and the line gave me great blocking.”
Noble may not have thought he played his best, but Stillwater’s offensive coordinator Paul Hix was impressed by the sophomore’s play.
“He really didn’t make very many mistakes,” Hix said. “He really stood in the pocket. The game didn’t seem to be too fast for him. I was really concerned about the speed of the game overall, having been a sophomore, but particularly (Broken Arrow’s) speed. I thought he stood in the pocket and went through his progressions and did a really good job.”
Facing a defense that is expected to lead Broken Arrow back to the Class 6A state championship game, Noble’s calm and collected nature helped Stillwater put together a couple of impressive drives.
It also helped him effectively clinch the role of replacing Jerame Littell as the starting quarterback when the Pioneers take the field in the season opener against McAlester in two weeks.
“I think he’s pretty much sealed it,” Barnard said. “He’s shown a lot of command of the offense. That’s not a knock on Taggart (Brown). Right now, Braxton just shows more understanding of our offense and the way we like to run things.”
“I was afraid that I might have to boil back some of the offense for him, being a sophomore and being early in the year, but that’s not the case at all,” Hix said. “He’s really grabbed it and ran with it, and he’s been successful at everything. He can make all the throws, so we haven’t had to really take anything out of the playbook yet. That’s very unusual for any quarterback, much less a sophomore that didn’t play JV.”
Even though Noble was extremely nervous early in Friday’s scrimmage, he felt more comfortable as the scrimmage progressed.
“I felt like I got tremendously better throughout the scrimmage just by seeing how the game slowed,” Noble said. “It helped me develop just knowing what they were doing. The receivers were so helpful for me. They just helped me slow down and know that I could make a good throw to them.”
Noble wasn’t perfect in the scrimmage — few sophomore quarterbacks getting their first start are. But even though Hix said Noble still has some things to work on, he said he feels very comfortable about leaving the team in Noble’s hands.
“I’ve watched all the tapes, so the things that he needs to work on are just a little bit of footwork here and there and maybe some playfakes,” Hix said. “Those are really minor things, especially for a young guy. I would have been pleased if there were quite a few mistakes to kind of clean up, but there really weren’t. That’s really encouraging.
“He didn’t miss a single signal from the sidelines. He did a pretty good job of pushing the tempo. There’s not a whole lot left as far as improving his individual play. Overall, just as a leader and a captain of that particular unit on the field, those are the only areas that he’s truly got left to excel in as far as what we expect from him this year.”