FLORENCE — La’Norris Sellers’ father was apprehensive about letting his son play varsity football during his freshman year at South Florence — let alone be the starting quarterback.
“At first, he wanted me to just play J.V.” La’Norris said. “He knew I could do it. But he didn’t think I was ready for it.”
Sellers had no choice but to be ready for it, because last year’s starter, Shalique Parks, missed the first few games because of shin-related stress fractures.
So that made Sellers the first Bruin quarterback to start a season opener since Prince took over as coach in March 2012.
Although Sellers went through the growing pains any freshman starting quarterback would go through, he had his best game yet in a 35-7 victory Friday against St. James on the Bruins’ own field.
It was the same field where Sellers shined as quarterback last fall at Southside Middle School.
But regardless of the setting, Sellers showed poise in the pocket and completed 18 of 23 passes for 246 yards.
“He’s doing the things we’ve seen him do in practice every day,” Prince said of Sellers, who rushed for 65 yards against St. James. “He’s just getting more confidence and is able to do the things we need him to do better on Friday nights. I don’t think anybody was really surprised with his performance, because we knew he was capable of it.”
During Sellers’ first touchdown drive Friday, he was 7 of 8.
“Now dad sees I’m ready for it,” Sellers said, referring to his father, Norris Sellers, who was a standout Bruins linebacker. “I’m just making smarter decisions and having more knowledge where I can throw the ball and it be catchable.”
So do the rest of the Bruins, and they cannot be happier. And since Parks has been cleared to play, he has proved himself capable at receiver while accounting for a couple of receptions Friday against the Sharks.
For defenses that want to stop Bruins running back Hahsaun Wilson (127 yards and one TD Friday, 869 yards and six scores for the season), Sellers’ recent success gives them one more challenge to think about.
“We always want to be versatile and balanced,” Prince said. “The two parts of our offense complement each other. If we show defenses we can do both things well, they’ve got to defend the whole field, so that’s a big deal.”
Sellers, who was sacked five times by Wilson earlier this season in a 26-0 loss, said he used experience from games like that — along with film sessions — to make better decisions on what to do in the pocket.
“I have to stay calm in the pocket and know my surroundings,” Sellers said. “I need to look at the first and second read. After that, I need to scramble and look for anybody else who is open. And then, I’ll run.”
Prince elaborated on that, stressing for Sellers to be put in ideal situations.
“We’ve got to support him and get him in the right places and make the right calls to be a successful player every week,” Prince said. “We have to make sure we’re protecting him and picking up blitzes and getting wide receivers into the right places for him to be successful.”
So far, so good, as the Bruins are 3-3 after losing their first three games. The win against St. James even made the Bruins 1-0 in Region 6-5A.
Up next is 10th-ranked Carolina Forest on the Bruins’ homecoming night at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.
And Game No. 7 will be yet another chance for Sellers to grow.
“I can get better at making my reads,” Sellers said. “I’ve got a lot more to learn, but I’m getting better.”