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Edna's Austin Kelley building confidence as team's top QB

By BY KELDY ORTIZ - SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE
July 18, 2012 at 2:18 a.m.
Updated July 19, 2012 at 2:19 a.m.

Edna quarterback Austin Kelley throws a pass during practice on Tuesday. The junior will lead the Cowboys under center next season.

EDNA - Austin Kelley looked calm at practice Tuesday, doing routine plays, pointing to spots where players should be open. It's as if he belonged there.

Sure, it was just practice. But for the junior quarterback, it's the confidence that he needed coming off a season when he started just three games as a sophomore.

"Up to Friday, I heard people talking about it around town that I can't do it," he recalled about last season. "I was nervous the games I started."

Having a lot to think about going into the off season, Kelley and the rest of the Edna Cowboys will be competing in the state 7-on-7 football tournament at Texas A&M this week.

This will be the fourth straight year the team has participated in the tournament. For Kelley, it's a new role that coach Mike Pierce will be looking at closely.

With limited experience, Kelley will be expected to motivate his teammates to move forward and practice on sweltering summer days, when the option of staying indoors may be considered.

"When stuff goes bad, maybe in a game, he's out there directing traffic, being pumped up, turning everything into a good situation," said Pierce. "Don't do too much that you're not capable of doing, and enjoy playing."

Another potential setback, given his limited playing time last season, could be learning the playbook. The junior will likely need to put in a lot of work to get in sync with his teammates to create another winning season.

Senior defensive back DeRodrick Jones will look to give Kelley advice in his unfamiliar role.

"Just go with the flow," Jones said. "He hesitates the ball a lot, I tell him 'You the head man of the offense.'"

As for the 7-on-7 competitions, the Cowboys hope to shake off preseason jitters during this tournament, and Kelley wants to prove to critics wrong moving forward.

"I'm not nervous at all this season," smiled Kelley, "I'm ready to go."

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