Under the bright lights, Braden Handy, sophomore, takes the snap from under center. He scans the field and throws it deep. The panthers have taken lead.
This year Braden Handy has been playing football on both the varsity and J.V. team throughout the season. He has had to move up and down due to the injuries of the starting quarterback, Cameron Rising, junior.
The road for Braden Handy this year has been very unexpected.
“Playing on J.V. was what I first expected to do and then I was brought up to varsity in the middle of the season and again 2 weeks later,” Handy said. “The experience was great. I’ve learned a lot from playing with and against better competition and I feel like I’ve improved a lot.”
Handy has taken advantage of his time on varsity and has a record of two wins and two losses. Rising has been a great help to Handy during his move up to varsity.
“He’s helped me so much with the transition to a faster pace of play and he’s given me valuable advice about the ins and out of playing at the varsity level as well as the mental aspect of it,” Handy said.
In addition to teammates, a coach is a player’s best friend. Jason Klein, head coach of the varsity team, says Handy has improved on his confidence, speed, and his ability to grow as a player.
With a J.V. quarterback as the team starter, Klein has been training the players for an appearance in the CIF playoffs, yet he wanted Handy to treat it like any other game.
“We try to treat every game the same, so there is nothing new and crazy that we’re doing, we just want to improve what we already do,” Klein said.
Rising has been the starting quarterback for the Panthers since his sophomore year and is a great talent. He holds the Ventura County record for the most yards in total offense. He did this against Oaks Christian this year.
Rising has supported Handy throughout his journey on moving up to varsity, in his absence. Rising believes Handy’s greatest attribute as a quarterback is “his pocket presence.”
“(Handy) can hang in the pocket and take a hit. That’s something that’s very tough for a lot of quarterbacks to do and he does a very good job of it,” Rising said.
Handy has had a very small time to grow with the system since he was moved up in the middle of the season. Rising thinks he has matured. “When he got brought up he was scared, I know that. He did a good job. The first half was of the Valencia game was tough for him, but the second half he got settled down and was like he can do this and he did a fantastic job,“ Rising said.
Handy played in his first CIF game on Nov. 11, 2016 against Edison High School in Huntington Beach. The Panthers lost the game, 24-49, but the upside is: Handy gained more experience for his upcoming years on the team.