APEX — Apex’s football team needed a spark. In the middle of a lopsided drubbing by Cary, first-year Cougars coach Joe Kilby turned to his team’s youngest player. Freshman quarterback Ian Boyd was brought into the game, whether his nerves were ready or not.
He didn’t throw a single pass. Instead, he dropped back, tucked the ball and ran – 10 times for 101 yards, accounting for all but 31 of the team’s total.
Four weeks later, Boyd, 14, is still learning the ups and downs of being the signal-caller at a 4A school. After leading the Cougars to an upset of Athens Drive, Boyd and Apex were stifled by Holly Springs the following Friday.
But Kilby is excited about the promise Boyd shows, mainly his ability to be cool under pressure. Freshman quarterbacks are not common, especially among Wake County 4A schools. The last was Connor Mitch at Wakefield in 2009.
“Ian is a special young man,” Kilby said. “It’s taken us a while how to put everything together … but when you’ve got a weapon like Ian at quarterback, it makes some things go for us.”
Apex needed offensive help after starting the year 1-1. Boyd, 6-foot-1, had played junior varsity and played “lights-out” according to Kilby, but there was no guarantee any of it would carry over.
“It’s hard to tell how good a kid will be,” Kilby said.
Boyd wasn’t an immediate splash. “At first, I was a little timid to get out there,” said Boyd, who didn’t think he’d take a varsity snap this season. “I just went out there and played, tried to do the same things I did on JV.”
Apex scored seven points against Cary, Panther Creek and Green Hope before entering a home game against Athens Drive on Oct. 5. Athens Drive was first in the conference at the time, without a conference loss; Apex was the only team without a conference win.
But Boyd dazzled against the Jaguars with 244 yards of offense, including a 62-yard touchdown run. In the game’s last six minutes, he threw the tying touchdown and ran for the winner. Boyd has run for 460 yards and thrown for 399 in five games. “It blows me away continually, the things he picks up so quickly,” Kilby said. “He learns it the first time he sees it.”
Boyd says he’s also learned to trust teammates and coaches – and the importance of sliding. “Just go down,” Boyd said, smiling sheepishly after taking a fair share of varsity hits. “My running ability is a lot higher than my passing, but I’m working on it.”
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps