Making friends pays off for Tupelo's Hobson

TUPELO – Every time Tupelo’s Luke Hobson steps into the huddle, he knows he’s surrounded by friends.
It helps to have friends when you’re the quarterback.
“I have a good relationship with my offensive line, my receivers and backs,” said the Golden Wave junior. “I can talk to them.
“It’s like going out and playing with your best friends.”
Hobson, who has completed 44 of 89 passes for 912 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions, took over the starting job last season the week Tupelo played top-rated South Panola.
He directed a struggling 2009 Golden Wave team to a 2-2 finish in what was a disappointing 3-7 season.
Friday, when he steps under center in Tupelo’s Division 1-6A home game against Horn Lake, he will be making his 13th start. The Golden Wave enters the game with a 6-2 record and a chance to qualify for the state playoffs.
Next week’s regular-season finale is at Olive Branch.
“We’ve been told we have to win both to get a guaranteed spot in the playoffs,” Hobson said.
Tupelo, which lost 62-6 three weeks ago to the nation’s top-rated team, South Panola, bounced back last week to defeat DeSoto Central 35-7 and remain in the postseason hunt.
Earlier this season, following a stinging 47-14 loss to Starkville, the Golden Wave rallied the next week to beat a talented Southaven team 48-34 with a 35-point second half.
First-year head coach David Bradberry points to Hobson’s leadership with keeping the team focused despite the two tough losses.
“Luke’s stayed positive,” Bradberry said. “He’s had some games that were really good and some that were not as good. You couldn’t tell by looking at him the next week in practice if he had a good game or not.
“He prepares the same way each week. I’m tickled to death with his work habits.”
Bradberry, a former quarterback, said a lot has been put on Hobson’s shoulders this season.
“He’s responded,” the coach said. “He’s put us in some good situations and made some good choices.
“His game has expanded as the season’s gone along. He’s been good for us.”
Hobson’s had a lot of help making the offense go. Sophomore tailback Ashton Shumpert has rushed for 1,049 yards and scored 12 TDs in eight games. His wide receivers – Terrell Pinson and Matt McIntosh – are big-play makers. The offensive line play has been “outstanding,” Bradberry noted.
“We have a lot of guys who want to play,” Hobson said. “They want what’s best for this team. They’ve gone all-out in the weightroom and in practice. It’s paid off.”
Hobson admits that he’s improved a lot since his first start last season, however, he knows there’s a lot more work to do.
“I’m never going to be satisfied,” he said.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal