MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

July 14, 2014

Tigers’ QB area’s most seasoned

J.R. Singleton has plenty of game notes to go over.

Singleton begins his fourth season as Fort Gibson’s quarterback. He was his dad’s pick for the job as a freshman when James Singleton moved from the staff at Muskogee High to Fort Gibson.

In his sophomore season he helped the Tigers to their best finish since the 1999 state finalist team — they lost to Anadarko in the Class 4A quarterfinals. What was behind him those first two years, 2012 All-Phoenix MVP Jake Gandara, graduated that year.

So Singleton’s junior year was in a sense, a lot like his freshman year.

More learning. Starting with how to handle the offense when you’re the prime target in the defensive crosshairs.

“I don’t want to say he struggled in that role, but there were times he felt he had to do some things for passes and he could’ve instead taken off and used his speed a little more,” coach Singleton said.

That’s kind of like former Green Bay Packers great Brett Favre, who the coaching staff makes reference to when confronted by those situations, the coach said.

“His first season a lot of lessons had to do with the speed of the game and you wanted him to adjust to that and have confidence in it. But there are situations now where you want him to be a little more conservative and not try to force a ball where it can’t go.”

J.R. has taken proper notes, which is what you’d expect from a kid who is at the top of his senior class academically and even got some communication from Harvard regarding continuing his career beyond this season.

“You don’t need to try and make the big play all the time,” J.R. said. “Sometimes you have to settle for the small route that’s going to get you 3-4 yards and be about down and distance.”

In five nights in 7-on-7 passing leagues, J.R. had no interceptions. That streak was broken in week 6.

“I wanted to go long on an out route and it gave the safety time to come down on it,” he said.

J.R. doesn’t have to be perfect. But expect him to improve on last year’s 93-of-196, 1,689-yard passing performance, and keep defenses honest with his footwork that netted him 890 yards rushing on 140 carries.  Not just due to improved judgment but also that his host of receivers and running backs have a year of polish.  Jordan London was atop the Phoenix list of receivers among these watch lists.

“He knows we don’t have to lean on him,” Singleton said of his son. “Our running backs had a great spring. The receivers are running routes and getting to the right spots; therefore, the dramatic throw becomes a routine throw. Collectively as a group, it will make them less stressful.”

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