He’s been out of middle school barely two years, but he’s already being trusted to play his sport’s most important position. Evan Kinney is the starting quarterback for the Corona del Sol High School football team.
As 15-year-old sophomore, Kinney is one of the youngest players on the squad yet he’s being asked to become one of the smartest. He’s also being asked, as befits the role, to become the team’s de facto spiritual leader.
So far, with eight games into the season, Kinney seems to be gaining momentum.
Aztecs football coach Zane Zamenski said Kinney has improved each week, already having shown a lot to be happy about. With a competitive nature and effective skill set, Kinney already has proved himself able to stand out among his teammates.
“When Evan came in he was one of three (quarterbacks competing for the starting position). He rose to the top,” said Zamenski. “He’s got some definite skills. He can throw the football. He’s got a pretty good arm. He has the intangibles that we say a quarterback needs to have.
“He has the mindset, some of the leadership skills we look for at that position. Those are the things initially that impressed us about Evan.”
Asking a sophomore to lead the offense wasn’t an easy choice for Zamenski.
“It’s always hard to put a sophomore at that position. Sophomore, freshman, sometimes even a junior, it’s hard to put there,” Zamenski said. “In our situation, his blend of tools was the best for us, so we made that decision.”
Kinney has taken his opportunity and made the best of it. He said he’s working hard to improve each week. He knows his strengths and limitations. He’s an athletic quarterback with a good knowledge of the game. He’s accurate and effective with the play-action pass.
Although he’s never before had as much responsibility as now, Kinney says he has always been aware of his talent.
What this opportunity has taught him is that he can be a leader as well. Kinney said he pays attention to the older players such as linemen Todd and Andrus Peat.
“Todd and Andrus are getting national attention. I just see how they are around people. I have a lot of role models on the team that I can model myself after,” Kinney said.
Those role models have helped mold Kinney into a leader on the field. He has gained the respect of his teammates in the huddle, and says he’s becoming more confident by the day.
“He’s really done some neat things for us this year,” Zamenski said.
Kinney said he wants to finish the season with a winning streak and gain some momentum for next season.
As he matures, Zamenski thinks Kinney will become truly special. He said Kinney can reach his potential by continuing to work hard and spending time in the film room. These are all things Kinney is prepared to do. With high expectations for himself, Kinney said he has to work hard to achieve his goals.
“I like to push myself and get pushed by other people to become the best I can,” he said. “Coach Zamenski always says we can go as far as we let ourselves. I’d like to go as far as I can for football.”
That’s just fine with Zamenski, who feels Kinney has gotten off to a good start.
“We hope that he continues to progress at the rate that he has thus far,” Zamenski said.
“If he does, great things are in store for him in the future.”