BY BRANDON SPECK
NETTLETON – Dakota Cruber has seen the downs. He’s starting to see the ups.
Nettleton’s fourth-year starting quarterback entered the fire as a freshman and threw for 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns. He followed that up with another 1,600 yards as a sophomore and last season threw for 2,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.
This past Friday, Cruber threw for 286 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers’ 62-24 win against Mooreville.
There have been some negatives along the way, too. Nettleton (2-0) won just eight games the last three seasons. Cruber threw 10 interceptions last year. He worked in the offseason on a number of things, including his footwork.
“I expect some different things because of the work we put in in the weight room this summer,” he said. “The past two or three years, we really didn’t put in the work in the summer.”
There are things Nettleton coach Mike Scott is still looking to see, such as timing, but he sees steady improvement in practice.
This year, things are laying out differently early on.
Cruber’s stat line currently features seven touchdowns, no picks. He has a favorite target, or two. Seniors Levert Jernigan and Jeremy Cook have combined for 471 yards and six touchdowns.
“You’ve got a guy with a good arm that can get it to somebody that can make a play,” Scott said.
Scott knows something about passing. He was operating a run-and-shoot at Shannon before tempo became a football “thing.” Romaro Miller remains one of the best to play in the state and built quite a career at Ole Miss.
Nettleton’s offensive coordinator is another former Shannon quarterback great, Ken Topps.
“He’s becoming more of a 12th-grade quarterback,” Topps said.
Nettleton has already matched last season’s win total but the schedule doesn’t let up. The Journal’s No. 4 small school, East Webster, is next, then Shannon, then Aberdeen three weeks later to open division play.
Cruber says the chemistry with his receivers is due some to a long playing career with them, some since seventh grade.
“We have good chemistry on and off the field,” Jernigan said.