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Mustangs' Cela relishes opportunity
Alex Cela
Senior Alex Cela scans the field during Friday’s Silver-White Game at The Corral. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

GUYTON — Alex Cela spent years thinking about what it would be like to be a starting quarterback. Now he is just a few days from finding out.

The senior is in position to take over the signal-calling duties for South Effingham, which will open the season at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Metter.

Although he received playing time previously at wide receiver, Cela always wanted to be the guy under center for the Mustangs.

“I’ve always been behind Taylor Jackson,” Cela said. “I was never able to beat him out. But coach (Nathan) Clark was able to put me on the field, so I was happy to be out there at least.

“I’ve been waiting on this moment my whole life — just to be able to say I’m a high school starting quarterback. It’s the greatest feeling to me.”

He’s been making the most of every practice and has put in extra work when the team is off.

“I am trying to make the team better and trying to make everyone better around me,” Cela said. “It’s a great feeling to have a football in my hand always.”

Cela has been fine tuning every aspect of his game, knowing he must grasp every little detail there is about playing quarterback.

“I’m working on getting the ball out faster, reading the field better, reading the safeties and the defensive coverages, working on lower-body mechanics and getting my hips through,” Cela said.

Cela has a jumble of feelings heading into the season, saying it’s a mixture of jitters and exhilaration.

“I’m excited because it’s our time at South to prove what we can do but I’m nervous because I’ve never stepped foot under the lights at the quarterback position,” he said.

Cela sees himself as a dual-threat performer and likens his game to that of Russell Wilson. He’s been throwing the ball nearly 200 times a day but says he will rarely stay in the pocket. 

“I think playing wide receiver will help me at quarterback, too,” Cela said. “Playing wide receiver helped me learn the routes faster and better, and running the routes helped me read the defenses and know when to break my routes. At the quarterback position, I’ll know when the receiver should break.”

While Cela said he still has work to do in his pocket precision, he’s got a few plays up his sleeve he can run seamlessly. He’s not the type to continuously throw 50- and 60-yard bombs. Instead, he enjoys slowly progressing down the field, which he’ll do through read plays or short passes. 

And as the Mustangs inch closer to the season, Cela is thankful that he will see the gridiron this fall.

“I’m looking forward to being able to step foot on the field again after all this COVID-19 stuff gets away,” he said. “I’ve been waiting on this moment for a while.”