The life of a backup quarterback is often a job without much glory.
You’re there as an insurance policy for the game’s most important position, oftentimes left without enough repetitions in practice to succeed when your number is called while being expected to take the field at a moments notice.
In the case of quarterback Kellen Myers, the chance to flip the usual script is his for the taking. In the second half of the season opener, Myers took the field after a couple of hard hits on starter Darian Taylor and managed to provide a spark to an otherwise anemic offense. By Week 2 against Emporia, Myers had earned the starting job.
“Kellen came in during the Mill Valley game and really did a nice job for us,” Manhattan head coach Joe Schartz said. “We’ve known all along that he was capable. He’s really done a nice job with the starting role.”
While Myers and the Indian offense only produced one touchdown and 92 total yards offensively against Emporia, the unit did enough to get the win. Myers gets his second chance to start, this time on the road, tonight at 7 against Seaman.
“Last week we were struggling offensively, and he never hung his head,” Schartz said. “He kept his focus and kept leading the team and was a positive leader. I think that was a key to the victory last week. We could have given up, and I think a lot of the reason we didn’t was attributed to Kellen.”
Myers, who also played varsity receiver a year ago, has been playing football since third grade. He had the benefit of extra coaching from his father, Larry Myers, who is head coach at Anthony Middle School.
“If I ever have a question, I can ask him,” Kellen Myers said. “But he doesn’t usually try to help me too much, he tries to stay out of the way. He’s already helped me a lot, when I was younger. He taught me a lot when I was younger, but recently he’ll just ask questions about what other teams are doing or what they may do, something like that. He’s still there as a coach and as a dad.”
Over the years, Myers continued to play quarterback, even as he explored other positions. As a junior, he served as the JV quarterback while playing varsity games at wide receiver alongside teammate Bret Fehr, who now serves as his favorite target.
“Me and Bret when we played receiver, we always talked about how we wanted to run a route or how we wanted a certain route to be ran,” Myers said. “We did that a lot when we ran routes off to the side. So now it’s easy to go up to them, talk to them and ask them what they see, because I’ve been there and I’ve seen what they’re seeing.”
Schartz said Myers has the highest ceiling of any of his players, because he’s still adjusting to the varsity level as a quarterback.
“I think the potential for improvement is greater at that spot just because of the situation than most others,” he said. “He’s steadily getting better every day. We need him to manage the team and lead the team with a positive attitude in the huddle, and then the improvement with the turnovers was a great shot in the arm for us last week.”
While Myers said his throwing comes second behind his running abilities, Schartz moved him into the starting role to help bolster the passing game.
“He throws the ball pretty well and he’s pretty good at making reads in the passing game,” he said. “We’re still making improvements to mesh with the running backs and the reads in the option game, but hopefully that continues to improve on a daily basis.”
Myers said the biggest adjustment he must make is acclimating himself to the speed of the game at the varsity level. Schartz agreed.
“I think every level the speed goes up a notch, and Friday nights are a lot faster than Mondays or Thursdays,” Schartz said. “You just have to be a little bit more on top of your game at the varsity level. Kellen’s shown that he has the ability to do that.”
In addition to football, Myers also plays baseball for Manhattan High as an outfielder. The senior said he loves both sports but is more suited for baseball.
“I love football, I love baseball, but baseball is my better sport,” Myers said. “I’m more physically adapted to baseball. I’m not the biggest guy.”
Myers admits the progress offensively hasn’t come as fast as he would like. The Emporia game, while ending in a win, brought plenty of frustration as the game wore on. But the senior is determined to stay the course and keep helping his team anyway he can. His personal goal for this season is a simple one.
“Just to get better every week,” he said. “Improve, help the offense improve and be a better leader every week.”