Piedmont junior Noah Ellis has the kind of intangibles that are hard for head coach Drew Gossen to characterize specifically, but he knows they’re the
ones he wants in his starting quarterback.
Which is why as Piedmont approaches its season opener at defending Class 5A runner-up Skiatook, it does so with a quiet confidence about how Ellis will perform in the first varsity game action of his young career.
“He’s a kid that’s heady and has sort of an innate knowledge of the game,” Gossen said. “He has some of those intangible qualities you can’t teach.”
Athletically, Ellis runs well enough to keep defenses honest. He continues to grow as a passer in Piedmont’s evolving offense that includes lots of read-and-react options for the quarterback.
“He’s really starting to throw the ball pretty well and it’s been good to see him develop and continue to improve,” Gossen said. “Confidence has played a big part in that. He’s starting to feel like he’s the guy and has started to own the role a little bit.”
Although the switch in offensive philosophies wasn’t made specifically for Ellis, moving forward Gossen intends to tailor his play calling to best suit his young quarterback.
“There are definitely some traits and attributes of things he does well we’ll mold offense towards,” he said. “Our goal is always to make sure our guys are in the best position to have success.”
A soft-spoken Ellis has already found the portion of the offense that suits his game best. He says it’s the cerebral part of quarterbacking, especially in this offense, he likes most.
“I like being able to read it and do different things on every play,” he said. “There’s not just one option on each play. I feel like I read defenses pretty well and know what to do with the ball.”
It’s Ellis’ added dimension as a runner that could make the biggest difference for Piedmont, which struggled for most of last season to run the ball consistently. He’s not particularly fleet of foot, but has good vision and a knack for making plays when needed.
“He has a way of sensing pressure and getting away to make a play,” senior receiver Hunter Chism said.
Ellis could only watch on Friday night’s last season, but he learned from three-year starter Lucas Richert, as Richert battled knee injuries yet still managed to lead Piedmont within a game of the postseason in 2014. Although the two bring different strengths to the field – Ellis is more mobile and Richert was more comfortable as a pure pocket passer – Ellis hopes to follow in Richert’s footsteps.
“He taught how to never give up and always give 100 percent effort every play,” he said.
Naturally, Ellis is both excited and nervous for the season opener.
“It’s a little bit of both,” he said. “I’m just excited to get it going.”