Vallivue Middleton FOOTBALL02.JPG

Middleton quarterback Ky McClure (18) looks to pass the ball against Vallivue during the game on Sept. 18, 2020.

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Ky McClure found himself surrounded by a lot of talent this summer.

Participating in the Elite 11 camp in Nashville, Tennessee, the Middleton High senior quarterback had the opportunity to workout with four- and five-star recruits, many of whom come from the heart of SEC country. Players like Bryce Young and Joe Milton, who will start this fall at Alabama and Tennessee, respectively, served as camp counselors.

“There were a lot of dudes there, so I was just trying to see what they were doing and watching their mechanics,” said McClure, who has drawn interest from several Big Sky schools but doesn’t hold a scholarship offer yet. “They all have different coaches, so I was like ‘maybe some of the stuff the four- and five-star people do, maybe I can add that to my game.’”

It’s part of the continued development of McClure, who over the last four years has improved his throwing arm to become a true passing threat for the Vikings, with the option to hurt opponents with his legs, as well. In last Friday’s 40-7 win over Elko (Nevada) in Middleton’s season opener, McClure accounted for 253 passing yards, 60 rushing yards and all six of the Vikings’ touchdowns before being taken out in the fourth quarter.

“We put a lot of work in the summer, with two-a-days and going to (Eastern Oregon) for a camp,” said McClure. “The camp really helped us improve and come together as a team, and it really showed in our first game. Elko was definitely a good learning experience for everyone and the young guys on the team. Overall, it set us up well and going into our second game against Mincio, we’re looking to do better.”

The Vikings will host the Spartans at 7 tonight in the final nonconference game before getting into the 4A Southern Idaho Conference schedule next week against Caldwell. The Vikings will be looking to continue building off what their senior quarterback did, not just last week, but in his first season as a starter in 2020, as well.

“He’s a very talented young guy, and he’s got a year under his belt,” said Middleton coach Bill Brock. “So he’s got that experience to go with him. We felt like he had a very productive first game and we’re looking for bigger and better things from him this year.”

McClure is the type of quarterback who is able to thrive in Middleton’s spread offense, which Brock switched to from the run-heavy double-wing offense in 2017, McClure’s eighth-grade year. For nearly 20 years the double-wing defined the Vikings’ offensive philosophy and that spread down to the middle school, where McClure was playing.

With years of learning the double-wing offense, coupled with the fact that the passing game in middle school programs often aren’t as developed as they are at the high school level, McClure admits his throwing skill left a lot to be desired as he came into his freshman season.

But he had some throwing experience from his days playing Optimist football with a team in Eagle, where the high school team has sent three quarterbacks to NCAA Division I FBS programs since 2010. He also had a naturally strong arm, which gave Brock and the Viking coaches something to work with.

“Freshman year, I would say I was more of a runner,” McClure said. “My mechanics weren’t the best, but I could definitely sling it around. I’ve always had a strong arm growing up, but the accuracy definitely came on in my later years.”

Through lots of reps, lots of work in the weight room and lots of throws to receivers, McClure has steadily improved his passing game the last few years. He became a starter for the Vikings before last season.

In just his second start, a 53-28 win against Homedale, McClure threw for 457 yards and five touchdowns. He ended the season earning SIC All-Conference honorable mention.

“The learning curve is pretty high sometimes, but like a lot of young quarterbacks, he had to go through that learning curve,” said Brock. “But he’s very coachable and a smart young man and he’s picked it up quite well. We’re still learning and we’re still getting better, that’s the exciting thing.”

Perhaps the biggest testament to McClure’s talent is the number of wide receivers he’s been able to throw to. After losing all-conference receivers Cash Cowdery and Mason Nichols, as well as tight end Nick Pitkin, McClure completed passes to seven different receivers against Elko. Two of his four touchdown passes were to Tyler Medaris with Dekker Hagler and Hayden Leavitt both catching scores. Owen Graviet also had 109 yards on six catches.

“We’re all on the same page,” McClure said. “Tyler stepped up, especially, and so have Owen and Hayden. They’re ready to work and get at and go win some games. That’s going to be fun.”

John Wustrow is the assistant sports editor of the Idaho Press. He is a Michigan native and a graduate of Indiana University.

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