SPIVEY’S CORNER — Much like a seasoned conductor who skillfully guides an orchestra, the most effective quarterbacks master the art of directing.
Midway’s Wyatt Holland began his second season as full-time starter with his best performance to date, conducting the Raiders offense to the tune of 300 yards passing and four touchdown tosses in the 53-13 rout over rival Hobbton last Thursday.
The career-best efforts didn’t surprise Midway coach Cory Barnes who says Holland’s leadership characteristics are a big component of the team’s success lately.
“Wyatt is a good player for us and he leads our offense ... when guys make plays and hold on to the football, we can be really good,” Barnes said.
Holland steered the Raiders to an 8-4 season and a trip to the state playoffs as a first-year starter, totaling over 1,500 yards passing and 17 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
Despite a fumble by a Raiders’ receiver on the first play from scrimmage this season, the junior signal-caller had a positive message to help his group rebound.
“Just wipe that off, we got four quarters — just make the next play,” Holland said. “Everybody’s going to mess up some time, but you just got to come back stronger the next play.”
The “next play” was on the following series as Holland led the Raiders on a scoring drive, capped by a 2-yard touchdown pass that made way for the scoring spree.
Holland’s maturity overlaps with another endearing quality that makes him worthy of a leadership position — humility.
“I can throw it as well as I can, but they (receivers) got to catch it and at the end of the day, they made some great catches,” Holland said after completing 19 of 23 attempts with no interceptions, hitting four different Raiders’ pass-catchers in the process.
Senior wideout Lane Baggett was Holland’s primary target, catching seven balls for a game-high 102 yards and three touchdowns. Each scoring connection came via passes of 25-plus yards along the boundary, highlighting a unique chemistry that was months in the making.
During an offseason in which most quarterbacks and receivers couldn’t meet due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Baggett and Holland benefited from their bond as cousins.
The duo got together for backyard pitch-and-catch sessions and shared the same field at the Raleigh Air Raid Academy, prepping for 7-on-7 workouts twice a week.
“They know what each other’s thinking. We can run a little choice route with them and they know where each other is going to be,” Barnes said of the standouts.
For Holland, the opening outing marked a continuation of a noteworthy winter that saw him pick up an All-American nomination from VTO Sports, a nationwide organization that showcases the top high school football athletes.
He says that his focus isn’t on individual accolades, however, and is instead on seeing his teammates improve as they trek through a shortened schedule in which each contest is magnified.
“We just got to stay disciplined and stay in the weight room, and just compete at practice every day. We can’t take a break now, because we got two big games coming up,” Holland said.
Midway is scheduled to play at Lakewood on Friday, March 5 before opening a three-game conference slate.
Donnell Coley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-230-2040.