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Scholar athlete: Trinity linebacker uses video sessions to study himself, improve

Trinity football player Michael Iles watches game film behind head coach Josh Loy Tuesday evening as the team prepares to play Simpson Academy in the second round of the MAIS Class AA South State Playoffs. Iles, a defensive captain, uses film-study to improve as a player.

NATCHEZ — Michael Iles’ smarts do more than just translate to good grades in the classroom at Trinity Episcopal.

The junior middle linebacker for the Saints helps serves as defensive captain for the Saints — and that begins in the teams’ “classroom,” so to speak.

His coaches have described Iles as a student of the game, and he’s especially attentive during film sessions each week. Iles said it’s important to study game film in order to improve as a player.

“I like to see what I’m doing wrong and to see if I can fix it,” Iles said. “It makes a huge difference, because the way you remember something happening in a game might be different than what actually happened.”

Saints defensive coordinator Kyle Ketchings said Iles will put in as many extra hours during film session as the coaches let him.

“We have to kick him out of here some nights,” Ketchings said.

Trinity head coach Josh Loy said Iles has taken up the role of a vocal leader on defense and helps his teammates understand the plays when they’re called.

Trinity football player Michael Iles, left, and his teammate Demarcus Fleming watch game film as the team prepares to play Simpson Academy in the second round of the MAIS Class AA South State Playoffs. (Ben Hillyer \ The Natchez Democrat)

“He seems to love football, and he’s one of our hardest workers,” Loy said. “He’s really dedicated himself in the weight room in order to put himself in this position.”

Ketchings said he sees a lot of himself in Iles. During his playing days with the Saints from 2004-2007, Ketchings also used to make sure everyone was in position.

“He’s smart enough to understand the game plan every day, and that translates onto the field,” Ketchings said. “He’s vocal enough to line everyone up.”

Being a leader means more than just positioning everyone, Iles said.

“When something bad happens, I try not to let anyone get down,” Iles said. “I tell them to bounce back and hit again.”

Iles currently has a 3.3 grade-point average and scored a 24 on his ACT. He’s currently undergoing ACT prep in hopes of boosting his score and getting potential out-of-state colleges to waive out-of-state tuition. He said he wants to go to LSU or Ole Miss, but has no idea what he wants to major in yet.

Football was something Iles grew to love after watching older players do big things for Trinity. He said Stevan Ridley and the Saints’ senior class of 2010 stand out to him.

“Stevan was just explosive,” Iles recalled. “He could hit anyone and gut through anywhere. He was just good.”

The 2010 senior class, which went undefeated and won the MAIS Class A state championship, had players like Eric James and Kent King that Iles said he admired.

“I was just a freshman (on that team), but when I got in, I loved playing,” Iles said. “I was proud to be on the same field as them.”

Iles said what made that 2010 team special was how tight-knit they all were.

“We all got along with each other,” Iles said. “We didn’t have to scream at anyone to get pumped up or anything. Everyone just did what they were supposed to do.”

As a student-athlete, Iles said it’s straight to the books when he gets home after practice.

“I don’t have any free time on weekdays, but it’s worth it,” he said.

Iles is the son of Geoff Iles and Simmons Huber.