By Kevin Posival
Killeen Daily Herald
Freshman Michael Cummings will make his varsity debut in Killeen's Maroon-White scrimmage Friday night at Leo Buckley Stadium. While the young gun will be the figure head for the Roos' offense in the upcoming fall season, the decision-making bodies will be in front of him, led by offensive lineman Rhontae Scales, a Rivals.com four-star recruit for Texas A&M.
Cummings admits he's nervous about being the signal-caller, but knows mistakes are going to be a part of his learning process.
"It's a real responsibility to take on," Cummings said. "I can just take it day by day. I know I'm going to make mistakes. Everyone does. I'm not going to get down on myself when I make a mistake."
As the freshmen team starting quarterback in 2007, Cummings said he and the team started off slow, but as the season developed so did their understanding.
"We started off kind of slow, but then we started knowing what we were doing and knowing our responsibilities," Cummings said. "I think I progressed a lot. I went from someone who just threw and ran the ball to doing my part on the team."
TRENCH LEADERSHIP – Killeen coach Sam Jones isn't expecting Cummings or backup, sophomore Ja'Corie Baker, to be the team's leaders at the beginning of the season. He expects that responsibility will fall on the broad shoulders of his offensive line where he has two starters returning.
"Leadership isn't really going to have to come from a sophomore or junior. Our leadership comes from the offensive line," Jones said. "Those guys have varsity experience. I think they will take control of the offense."
Defensively, Jones has a lot more experience coming back, despite being varsity newcomers.
"The defense, overall, is a little bit stronger than the offense," Jones said. "Anytime you play 10 ball games at the level we played at last year against the teams we played against last year, you're expected to be further along."
Jones returns two starters from last year's team at every level from the secondary to defensive tackles Terry Mathison and Demetrius Sturdivant.
"It's not pressure on us, no lie," Mathison said. "To us, we have it (experience) and that helps us as a team. When we get pressure, we're just trying to help our offense put pressure on the other team."
Added Sturdivant, "We play football. The offense does what they've got to do and the defense does what we've got to do to win games. We all play for the same team."
PLAYOFF PAY-OFFS – Baker, who was Alijawon White's backup quarterback last year, was a member of the Runnin' Roos basketball that advanced to a Class 4A Region II quarterfinal for the first time since 2005. Baker scored 14 points in the Roos' area round playoff game and led all scorers in the Roos' overtime loss to Dallas South Oak Cliff with 24.
"Me, as his (Cummings') backup, I like helping him out," Baker said. "I like to help out when I can because I got lots of help as a player on the basketball team."
Linebackers Titus Barnes and Paul Parker and defensive back Anthony Shaw were also a part of this year's Runnin' Roos team that won a school record 33 games in the 2007-08 basketball season.
The Roos' loss to the Golden Bears in late February was their third in the last four years and will be their last regional match-up with SOC for at least the next two years as the Roos head to District 25-4A in Region IV which is home to the current Class 4A Division II state champion.
"I've seen that Lake Travis won the championship. I just hope things go good for us," Baker said. "It's going to be a lot of pressure. A lot of the freshmen look up to me. I've got to make plays; I can't put my head down."
Contact Kevin Posival at email@example.com or (254) 501-7562.