Under the lights: The freshman quarterback gets his chance in the spotlight


Freshman Quarterback Landon Hughes (14) lines up before a play. Hughes helped the Millers defeat Mt. Vernon by a score of 43-35.

Savanna Hill and Gabe Fryling

Freshman quarterback Landon Hughes remembers his first high school football game, exiting the huddle the first time, students in the bleachers wear colorful shirts, shaking the seats, screaming around him. It seems like they have consumed five energy drinks before they arrived as it’s non-stop cheering for 60 minutes. He can only act, not thinking about all the eyes on him. One wrong move and he’s benched, another man standing in his spot. Heavy breathing surrounds him and coaches wave their arms in frantic motions. Hughes takes one deep breath, collects his thoughts and yells, “Hike!” Then, chaos ensues. 

Hughes is ready for the Friday night spotlight. For the upcoming season, Noblesville will be starting off with a new quarterback, and they hope to lift off with a strong start this season. The pressure is on him, yet this drastic change in just one summer will echo through his football career, shaping him for the future. But despite all the pressure, Hughes knows that he’s ready for the step into school history.

Hughes was aware that he would be playing with varsity all spring and summer and there was a good chance that he would be put in the starting position. But even if he has to carry the responsibility and criticism that comes with the position. 

“I’m super humble about it and I’m not cocky about it. I never want to be, especially as a freshman,” Hughes said. “I really only thought how different this will be going from eighth grade football to the highest team.”

The big change of scenery for Hughes walks him into shoes that seem to be ever changing throughout the seasons. The Miller season ended with a 2-8 record last year that disappointed both the fans and players but the coaches and the team are very excited to have someone like Hughes on the roster. He has impressed many so far, including the team’s senior leaders.

“He’s an absolute beast. I had my doubts because, not only is a freshman playing varsity rare, but a freshman playing varsity 6A football quarterback is even rarer,” senior offensive lineman Drew Page said. “He fits right into Coach Sharpe’s ideas, and he gets along well with the guys. We couldn’t be happier to have LJ Hughsy at QB1.” 

With Hughes at the helm, the NHS football team has high aspirations for the upcoming season. They hope to improve upon previous seasons that have been underwhelming for players and coaches alike. The squad has set their expectations in reasonable ways, not hoping to go from zero-to-hero all at once.

“Our goal is very clear and simple, we are trying to win at least six games,” head coach Dave Sharpe said, “Noblesville hasn’t won six games in a football season for almost 20 years, so we have 10 chances to do it and we think it’s a realistic goal for us.”

Hughes is not the only freshman to impress, as many leaders of the team have noticed how the newcomers have put in their all to make this season successful.  

“They are pretty good. After watching their scrimmage, they are a tough group of kids that play with a lot of energy,” Page said. “[The freshman team has] some studs on the team, and I think this season they are going to play really well together and win some football games.”

Hughes knows his role on the team; he has done his homework heading into the season. He’s worked to prepare himself for the season and show how he can play much better than expected and blend well with the team.

“He’s done a good job of learning all the fundamentals of our offense system,” Sharpe said. “He’s already a good leader. He’s not intimidated by being around the senior-dominated offensive line.”

Ready as ever to start his high school football career, Hughes is sure to make the most of his opportunities and solidify his spot as the starting quarterback for the Millers.