summersville — Instant gratification has consumed the sports landscape in recent years.
Not so in Nicholas County, where quarterback Timmy Baker has approached the starting job in Summersville in a more old-fashioned way — learning and waiting his turn.
After sitting behind all-state players Tate Mayes as a freshman and Jared Sagraves the past two seasons, Baker will finally get his chance when the 2019 football season kicks off Aug. 30.
“Timmy’s only problem was he had to play behind two really good quarterbacks,” veteran Nicholas County head coach Gene Morris explained. “He would have been able to start for several teams that we played against last year, there is no doubt in my mind. Now he is getting his opportunity and I think he will do a fantastic job for us.”
Baker was born in Summersville. He grew up mainly in Webster County before returning to the land of the Grizzlies while in middle school.
“I remember he moved here in seventh grade and we have been best friends ever since,” all-state wide receiver Luke LeRose said.
When Baker arrived in Summersville, Sagraves was the middle school quarterback. Baker instantly displayed his team-first attitude by playing any position to help his team.
Once he got to high school, Mayes was the starter and Sagraves was the sophomore backup at that time. Baker could have moved back to Webster County, but elected to stick it out, bide his time and learn.
“No,” Baker quickly said when asked if moving crossed his mind. “I mean, there are always those doubts. My freshman year, I didn’t expect to play. Sophomore year, there was just Jared and no one was behind him except me. So I had to be ready at all times in case something did happen. I worked hard and paid attention in practice to learn all the plays and how to read defenses.”
Baker also credits Sagraves with his willingness to help him while in the backup role.
“Jared was a really good quarterback and a really good guy,” Baker said. “He taught me a lot and he was really easy to understand. He was a team player and a good friend.”
That readiness was tested last year in a big game against eventual playoff team Shady Spring, when Sagraves was slightly injured and had to be removed for a series.
Baker stepped in and moved the team down the field with the efficiency of a starter.
“Sometimes they don’t understand the confidence we have in them,” Morris said. “We do. There is a just a reason why a guy is the starter and maybe you are not. But, when given the opportunity, take that opportunity and go with it.”
“I went into the game calm, knowing I had taken a lot of reps in practice and I knew exactly what I was doing,” Baker said. “I had a lot of help from the coaches and from Jared with the plays. The linemen and the receivers also had my back.”
During that series, Baker’s running ability caused the Tigers some frustration and will again be one of Baker’s strengths this year.
“I think I may have gotten some speed from my dad. He played here when it became the high school. He was fullback and ran track. So I must have gotten some speed from the old man,” Baker said, playfully.
If there is a question mark going into the season for Baker, it would come in his throwing ability with limited varsity experience.
“There is always room to improve, but I am confident with my throws,” Baker said. “I am confident about reading the defenses, knowing the routes and where to throw the ball. I am not saying I won’t make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes and nobody is perfect. But I have some really good teammates and good speed at wide receiver.”
Not only will Baker be the starter under center, he will also be counted on to be one of the team leaders this year.
“He understands the offense and he is getting better at it,” Morris said. “Out here in practice (Friday), he was making adjustments, talking to receivers, making sure people were lined up properly. That is when you know he is getting a grasp of what we need him to do as a leader as well. I don’t see us taking any backward steps with our quarterback.”
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