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Football 2013 impact players: Vidalia transfer taking reins as Trinity’s QB

Trinity Episcopal Day School quarterback Michael Whitley sprints past members of the offensive line Wednesday afternoon during a team practice at the school’s practice field. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Trinity Episcopal Day School quarterback Michael Whitley sprints past members of the offensive line Wednesday afternoon during a team practice at the school’s practice field. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The Trinity Episcopal Day School players and coaches insist there’s no quarterback controversy brewing.

Vidalia High School transfer Michael Whitley, who joined the Saints in the spring, is the go-to guy at quarterback with Boothe recovering from a recent elbow surgery.

“Michael is the guy right now,” Loy said. “Wyatt’s injury forced our hand.”

Whitley, a senior, played quarterback all three of his seasons at Vidalia High School before coming to Trinity. A versatile athlete, Whitley can also play wide receiver, running back and safety, making him a key piece of the Saints’ squad. And Loy said he likes the experience Whitley brings to the table at quarterback.

“He’s not gun-shy,” Loy said. “He’s been playing quarterback for a long time, so he’s battle-tested. There’s not really a whole lot that he hasn’t seen, which we like.”

Trinity Episcopal Day School quarterback Michael Whitley, left, takes a snap from center Michael Iles Wednesday afternoon during a team practice at the school’s practice field. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Trinity Episcopal Day School quarterback Michael Whitley, left, takes a snap from center Michael Iles Wednesday afternoon during a team practice at the school’s practice field. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

When he arrived at Trinity this past spring, Whitley said his goal was to show his teammates that he was a hard worker who wanted to win and would work to improve every day. He said he felt accepted almost immediately — and Boothe was a big part of that.

“We always joke around,” Whitley said. “We’re very good friends. He’s helped me out a lot; he taught me the routes. He’s a good guy.

“I’m not worried about (any quarterback controversy). I’m trying to keep the spot all year, but if they need me at another spot, I’ll do what’s best for the team.”

Boothe, a junior, said he made a point to help Whitley get to know his teammates. Like Whitley, Boothe said he’s happy to have Whitley on the roster.

“If something happens to one of us, the other one can handle the show,” Boothe said. “We’re friendly. It’s competitive for us, but we like each other.”

After watching Whitley line up under center, Boothe said he understands why the coaches wanted to give Whitley a shot at quarterback.

“He’s very versatile,” Boothe said. “He can throw and run, and he has a good head.”

Loy said he hasn’t seen any problems from Whitley as far as fitting in goes.

“To me, he’s one of those guys where, if you just walked in on us, you’d think he’s been here since he was a baby,” Loy said. “I think he’s one of the ones where, if you ask anyone on the team, he’s a leader, even though he’s new.”

The plan right now is to ease Boothe back into the quarterback role when he recovers from his injury, Loy said.

“I think when Wyatt comes back we can work him in and give us a different element (in the passing game),” Loy said. “Michael’s an unselfish kid. He’ll do what we ask him.”

The decision to transfer from Vidalia High School was tough, Whitley said, since playing in Concordia Parish is all Whitley has ever known.

“People don’t know how hard it is,” Whitley said. “You’re leaving people you love and coming to a place where people don’t know you. I’m happy here, but I think about it every day.”

Whitley said he chose to come to Trinity because he wanted a better opportunity to be seen by scouts and a better opportunity overall. So far, he’s been pleased with the amount of work the coaches have done on his footwork and technique at the quarterback position. He also said there’s a different feeling at Trinity when it comes to the players and coaches’ mindsets.

“It’s very different,” Whitley said. “It’s smaller but better in a sense, as far as the attitude goes,” Whitley said. “It’s a winning approach. (Loy) wants to maximize us. There are no off days. If we slack, he gets into us.”

After missing most of last season with a knee injury, Whitley said he’s eager to end his high school career on a high note.

“I feel great,” Whitley said. “My knee doesn’t bother me much at all. I want to get back to playing and be a better quarterback.”

And, ultimately, win a state title with the rest of his Saints teammates.

“I know we can do it if we work hard,” Whitley said. “We have the talent. I feel good about the receivers and the (offensive) line. It’s going great.”