By Gabriel Stovall
LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — The 2016 Airo 7v7 Adidas State Championship was, for the most part, a South Metro Atlanta dominated tournament. Of the 48 teams during the two day event at Locust Grove’s Warren Holder Park, more than half came from the four-county Southern Crescent area.
But if you were privy to some of the action on Tuesday and Wednesday, there was a player in black wearing No. 17 who was playing pitch-and-catch with his receivers with ease, regardless of the opposition, who regularly drew the “Who was that?” question out of coaches, fans and casual onlookers alike.
His name is Isaiah Green.
If you’ve never heard of him before, Southern Crescent fans, don’t feel bad. He’s a rising senior quarterback at Langston Hughes High which hasn’t been a regular opponent of a Southern Crescent school since 2013 when Hughes played Luella when both schools were competing in Class AAAAAA.
In 2015 Green completed 187 of his 323 pass attempts (58 percent) for 2,634 yards and 17 touchdowns to 9 interceptions for a Panthers squad that made the playoffs despite finishing with a 5-6 mark.
But if you’re a high school football fan at large, I guarantee you’ll know who he is before the 2016 season is done.
Every team that faced him during the Adidas State Championship tournament is already well acquainted.
The 6-foot-2, 200 pounder was systematic and surgical in his passing precision as he passed the Panthers easily through pool and single elimination play to take home the Adidas State Championship trophy.
The coup de gras was an incredibly impressive shutout win over Dutchtown which has seen the finals of this tournament for three straight summers. Green made it look easy, and it’s not because the competition was lacking.
After such a dominating performance, I had to take the opportunity to talk with Green after Hughes hoisted their trophy and get more insight on his steady rise as one of Georgia’s top QB prospects.
STOVALL: You made things look so easy out there over the last two days no matter who you played. What’s the secret behind that?
GREEN: “We just come out here and play together and are on the same page. We’ve got four D-1 wide receivers out here, Sean Nelson, Tony Jones, Karam Puckett and Deshawn Ross and I’m pretty good, and we bind to the system, so it works.”
STOVALL: How has that chemistry between you and the receivers grown to what we’ve been seeing out here on the field during this tournament?
GREEN: “It’s grown a lot because, all of them except Tony Jones are gonna be seniors. We’ve all been playing together since they were JV receivers. So we’re not new to each other. We’ve been together since we got here. And even Tony, the 2018 guy, I played with him on the rec ball team from the park, so the relationship with him has been as close as with all the rest.”
STOVALL: Was that type of bond kind of natural for you guys to develop, then?
GREEN: “It’s not really been that difficult. You gotta know what your receiver is gonna do, and as a quarterback, you’ve gotta be able to trust your ability to place the ball where it needs to be. It’s all about building that chemistry and camaraderie. They have to trust me to put the ball where it needs to go, and I gotta trust the receivers to be where they’re gonna be.”
STOVALL: You’re getting ready to go into your third year as a starter. Where would you say you’ve grown as a player?
GREEN: “I felt like I’ve grown a lot. Back in the 10th grade I had some attitude problems. I was getting down on myself a lot, and I’ve learned that I can’t let my last play upset or disrupt my next play. Since then I’ve gotten real good at just playing the game and moving on quickly from a bad play.”
STOVALL: The recruiting services have you listed as a dual-threat guy, but it looks like you’re perfectly fine just sitting back in the pocket. Which aspect of playing quarterback do you like most?
GREEN: “I like throwing and passing in the pocket really. I’m just called a dual threat, but I’m not really a running quarterback type of guy. I have the ability to extend plays, but I’m a pass-first guy. Even when I extend the play and break the pocket I’m always keeping my head up and looking down field.”
STOVALL: Fresh off your performance in Locust Grove, I see where you got an Eastern Kentucky offer to go along with six others. Is it gratifying to start getting that recruiting attention?
GREEN: “It feels good to feel like all your hard work is paying off. Every high school athlete wants to see that pay off and get those scholarships. It makes you want to keep going.”
STOVALL: After the trophy presentation, you were talking to your teammates about “When we win state.’” Do you feel like you all should be at least a darkhorse state championship contender with all the offensive talent you have?
GREEN: “Most definitely feel like should be favorite going. But we like being the underdog, but when it comes that time, teams are going to have to come see about us. We’re going to be ready.”
STOVALL: It’s your last summer of high school football. What are you working this summer to make yourself better?
GREEN: “I think I can improve on being a little bit more patient. Sometimes I can jump the gun, and I want to become great on my timing. Sometimes I get excited and I jump the gun a little bit, though. I can stand to tighten up my mechanics a bit.”