High School Football

RISING TO THE OCCASION

Tompkins QB and Alabama commit Milroe stars in giant upset of Katy

By Dennis Silva II | Sports Editor
Posted 11/8/20

If one wants to know what a great quarterback does before a big game with district championship implications—against a perennial state title contender, no less—just ask Jalen Milroe.

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High School Football

RISING TO THE OCCASION

Tompkins QB and Alabama commit Milroe stars in giant upset of Katy

Posted

If one wants to know what a great quarterback does before a big game with district championship implications—against a perennial state title contender, no less—just ask Jalen Milroe.

The Tompkins senior and Alabama commit understood what was at stake heading into his team’s game against Katy earlier this week. Two undefeated teams. Two teams ranked in the state’s top 15 in Class 6A; Katy No. 3 and Tompkins No. 14. Two teams ranked in the Houston area’s top five; Katy No. 2 and Tompkins No. 5. One team ranked nationally, Katy No. 6.

Perhaps more notably, Katy’s awe-inspiring 75-game district winning streak was on the line as well.

So Milroe did what he’s always done as the signal-caller at Tompkins. He spent hours upon hours in the film room the days leading up to the game. He upped the ante during practices.

He set the tone, just as he’s set the standard during his three very successful years captaining the Falcons.

“Katy is a fast and physical defense, so it came from game-speed reps and having the mindset that every practice is a game,” Milroe said. “For me, mentally, it was about my feet and making sure my eyes were right. They come at you from every point.”

And then the 6-foot-2, 192-pound Milroe went out and completed 17 of 23 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns to no interceptions against one of the top defenses in the state, leading the Falcons to a landmark 24-19 win over the Tigers and putting his team as the frontrunner for the District 19-6A title, likely breaking Katy’s 11-year stranglehold as the district’s best in the process.

“It came with confidence, due to our preparation and the work we put into the offseason,” Milroe said. “Without that work, none of this would’ve been possible. Physically, mentally … just being ready. We’ve all been locked in since the offseason. We went through adversity with COVID and the break, but we always had faith we’d still have a season. We put in work the whole time, and it’s factoring in.”

Ninety minutes before kickoff to the Katy game at Legacy Stadium, Milroe was on the field throwing with an assistant coach, getting his arm right. He comes from a military background. Work ethic is part of his DNA.

Coaches love coaching him and teammates love being around him. Milroe is quick with a smile off the field, but assassin-like on it.

He had his way against a Katy defense averaging 121.8 passing yards against entering the game. Milroe was cool and calm in the pocket. Quick, but never in a rush.

He got rid of the ball quickly and knew when and where to deliver it.

“He throws a great ball, makes some good decisions,” Katy coach Gary Joseph said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get more pressure on him, but he did a good job. He put the ball on the money and the receivers did a good job of catching the ball. He’s a big-game player who made some big plays.”

Milroe wasn’t the lone reason why Tompkins was victorious.

Junior receiver Joshua McMillan II was outstanding with a career-best night of 146 yards and three touchdowns on eight catches. The offensive line of junior Dylan Erwin, junior Tyler Lynch, junior Nathan Archibald, junior Ethan Vasquez and junior Luke Snyder—all first-year varsity starters—did an admirable job keeping Katy’s dangerous pass rush at bay and giving Milroe time; Milroe was only sacked once. The line also created enough gaps for senior running back and Tulsa commit Marquis Shoulders to rush for 92 yards on 16 carries for a balanced offensive effort.

The coaching game plan is also to be credited. In the final minute of the third quarter, with his team ahead 17-13, Tompkins coach Todd McVey made a gutsy call to go for it on 4th-and-17 from the Katy 30-yard line.

Milroe dropped back from the shotgun, eyed his target and bombed a 30-yard flare to McMillan that landed perfectly in the receiver’s hands just beyond the goal line at the front of the end zone.

“Put it in Jalen’s hands and let’s go,” McVey said. “Give it a shot. That’s our quarterback and we trust him. He did a great job making it happen.”

“It was a big choice to take that shot,” added Milroe, who had connected with McMillan on a 50-yard laser moments before to put the Falcons into Katy territory. “It shows that Coach McVey has confidence in the offense, and I love him for that.”

Milroe never ceases to amaze even his teammates, who get to watch him every day in practice.

“He’s unreal,” senior defensive back and fellow team captain Colby Huerter said. “Seeing him make the plays he made, it’s unbelievable.”

It wasn’t long after that touchdown to McMillan that Milroe knew his team had the win in the bag. In the fourth quarter, he looked over at the Katy sideline and saw something he’d never seen before.

“Seeing their heads going down … we feed off of energy. One of our core values we have on our wrists is ‘high energy,’” Milroe said. “Their heads dropped, and it was key for us to keep pushing.”

Milroe has performed exceptionally against Katy the last two seasons. In last year’s 35-30 loss, he completed 19 of 28 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns to one interception. That defeat lingered with him and his team, all through a global pandemic and a delayed start to his senior season.

When the opportunity finally came around to play Katy again, after the game was rescheduled three times due to COVID-19, Milroe was ready.

“It’s his senior year and he’s worked extremely hard during this offseason,” McVey said. “He’s doing his homework, the extra stuff he’s supposed to be doing. He’s just growing. It’s that mental game, and I thought the game really slowed down for him.”

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