Nicholson’s focus key in Petal’s final stretch

By ANDREW ABADIE,

PETAL – Just before the end of the first quarter of last Friday’s Jim Hill-Petal game, starting quarterback DeCarlos Nicholson was pulled for three plays after a penalty was called and an incomplete pass was thrown.

“(Petal coach Marcus Boyles) does it in practice,” Nicholson said. “He’ll yell at me (but) when he yells at me I tend to do a lot better. I just handle criticism well.”

Subbing in for those three plays was backup quarterback Jeremiah Robinson, who had two runs for 11 and 12 yards before bobbling a snap on the final play.

“I thought (Nicholson) wasn’t mentally in the game at that time,” Boyles said. “So just get him out of there and let Jeremiah get some reps. It was good for Jeremiah; he came in and did a real good job for us and it got DeCarlos focused. It’s amazing when you are standing on the sideline watching the game, how you will get refocused.”

Nicholson, who only played the first half like all the starters, closed the game out with four carries for 30 yards and a touchdown, while completing 5 of his 7 passes for 113 yards and another touchdown in the 42-30 win over Jim Hill.

“Jim Hill had to keep its starters in since they don’t have much depth,” Boyles said. “So you know when you put your young guys in there sometimes the score will not look like it should.”

Despite the second half, Nicholson’s focus was key in putting the Panthers up 35-6 at halftime.  However, Nicholson’s ability to conduct the offense and help contribute to the run game will be key if Petal wants to win out and make the playoffs. 

“That’s huge,” Boyles said. “DeCarlos has to play well for us on offense. If DeCarlos goes, we go. I mean that’s the bottom line, that’s the thing he’s got to play well. He’s been playing well and the offensive line has to do their job also.”

While Nicholson has proven to be an adequate passer, his running ability, along with running backs Micah McGowen and Rashad Handford, who have combined for 1,314 yards and 10 touchdowns (not including the Brandon game), are essential in giving the offense consistency.

“We have to be on the same page whether it’s pass blocking, runs, pulls or (run-pass options), we have to be on the same page,” Nicholson said. “I think it’s a huge part because if you do that then it opens up the passing game for us whether it’s a designed pass or an RPO. It makes people stay on their toes and not know what we are doing.”

As of now, the focus for Nicholson is to be a leader on the team.  He explained that his leadership and focus is key for his team and essential in winning the final stretch of games.

“(I have) to continue to come into practice every day and be a leader and keep the guys going and keep them up,” Nicholson said.  “Stay ready and keep everything positive.  Just staying prepared and not overlooking anyone, because we have to stay focused.”

For Boyles, much like Nicholson, the main focal point is to remain prepared.

“We won the first one of the four we have to win, so we took care of business,” Boyles said.  “Really, we have to have a great week of practice. I know I always say that, but we have to have a great week of practice. We have to go up to Meridian believing that we can win and be really physical.”