Diego Hernandez, the Patriots quarterback and leading passer for the district, will be out for the season, due to an ankle injury suffered in last week’s game against Roma.
Freshman quarterback Landry Gilpin, Coach Gilpin’s son, will be leading the 1-1 (4-2 overall) Patriots into Richard Thompson Stadium tonight for their District 31-5A battle with the 2-1 (6-1 overall) Pioneer Diamondbacks.
Originally listed as the Patriots’ third string quarterback, the younger Gilpin moved up to the second team after back-up quarterback Adam Solis left the team for personal reasons. With the district’s leading passer, junior Diego Hernandez, secure in his starting position with the Patriots, Landry’s move to the second team seemed rather inconsequential.
Be it bad luck, fate or the nature of the game, the inconsequential move became consequential during the second quarter of the Patriots’ 34-3 win over the Roma Gladiators last Friday. Hernandez suffered a season-ending ankle injury, suddenly elevating the one-time third-string quarterback to role of full-time starter.
Having seen only limited game action, all at the wide receiver position, prior to that fateful moment, Landry was well aware that as the back-up he could find himself calling signals behind center at a moment’s notice. Even so, when Hernandez went down and he was given the reigns to the Patriots’ offense, he couldn’t help but be a bit apprehensive.
“I was a little nervous about it, but they prepare you for everything here,” Landry said. “They let you know that anything can happen, so you have to be ready for everything. The whole team was ready when I went in and they all rallied around me. My teammates’ confidence in me put me into a comfort zone I would not have been in otherwise.”
Against Roma, Landry completed six of ten passes for 110 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran the ball eight times for 150 yards and one touchdown.
As recently as Monday this week Coach Gilpin was under the impression that Hernandez would only be out a matter of weeks. But Tuesday he learned that his No. 1 quarterback’s injury was much more serious than originally believed and that he would require surgery to repair his left ankle. As a result the younger Gilpin will now have the remainder of the season to prove that his being the only freshman on the Patriots’ varsity roster has much more to do with his abilities than his last name being Gilpin.
When asked if as the coach’s son he feels any added pressure to perform well, Landry said, “I really don’t think about it. I know that the team has confidence in me, so I just try to do my part like everybody else. We try doing everything as a team.”
Having a week to prepare for his first starting opportunity and knowing that he has a talented team around him, Landry is looking forward to tonight’s game.
“Pioneer is a really good team that’s had a really good season so far,” he said. “But everybody on our team is feeling confident with the way we’re playing so we’re feeling pretty good going into that game.”
Prior to last week’s game, Hernandez led the Valley in attempts (184), completions (105), yards (1,597) and touchdowns (17). That leaves big shoes for anybody, much less a 6-foot, 150-lb. freshman, to fill.