Sandroni Looking To Lead #themblankets
Daniel Bristow took over the starting quarterback spot at Tupelo in 2013 as a sophomore. He was more than solid for three years and as steady as they come. In 2015 Bristow lead the Golden Wave to a couple of clutch finishes and put a bow on his career.
However, for Trent Hammond and the Wave life goes on the search for the next guy is well underway. In fact, you could even say it started last season when Bristow was forced to miss a couple of games. Junior Ray Sandroni stepped in and managed the offense well and showed he was comfortable running the read-option.
“Coach (Trent)Hammond and Coach (John)Keith really prepared me well in case something happened. So getting me ready to fill his spot was all them,” Sandroni told SES Mississippi.
Last year there was no competition for the job, but this offseason is different and Sandroni knows there will be an intense battle to see who will lead the Wave next fall.
“Last year Daniel was the guy and the one we followed on offense,” He said. “I am excited to be able to compete for the job. Competition makes any player better. I’m going to need to go out and play my game and play it as hard and as well as I can. And hopefully become the starting quarterback.”
While Bristow has been Tupelo’s offensive leader the last few seasons, next year the focus will be shifted to the returning skill players. And for good reason as a good few emerged in 2015. Sandroni feels the returning experience at running back and receiver could make it easier for him if he is to win the job.
With the shift in focus, Sandroni feels the offense will look a bit different. Holding onto the ball better could also go a long way, he says.
“We had some guys step up like Austin Watkins, Donte Freeman, LaBryant Siddell and Chris Shannon. They are the guys going to make the big plays. It is my job to spread the ball to those guys,” Sandroni explained. “The quarterback role changes a little bit because there was a three-year starter under center last season.”
“Offensively, I feel like we need to be more consistent. In our losses we turned the ball over a lot. So if we protect the ball and consistently score we should be able to make a run.”
This offseason could benefit Sandroni by giving him time to improve and sharpen his game not only enough to allow him to win the starting job, but also to excel if does. One step in that improvement will come when he competes at the Fortius Project at ICC on April 30th. The key word there is compete, because that is exactly what he intends to do.
“I’m a very competitive person so I look at it as another chance to compete with some of the best athletes in the state. I know I’m going to compete with some of the guys there,” Sandroni said.
Though Sandroni is often feels he is overlooked because of his size he intends to surprise some when they seem him compete at Fortius.
“I know I won’ be as fast as some of the guys there,” He explained. “Being a 5’8 quarterback, arm talent can be overlooked so I feel like I can surprise people with the way I throw and the throws I can make.”
Speaking of his improvement, though, he plans to continue to strengthen his arm and get faster this offseason.
“Also I need to take more of a leadership role this upcoming year,” Sandroni said.
**Photo by Markietha Swinney.