McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local Sports

October 16, 2013

Verner keeps Buffs “centered”

McALESTER — When Mikey Verner made McAlester’s varsity as a junior last year, he found himself literally at the center of the action.

As the Buffs’ center on the offensive line, no play could take place without Verner first snapping the ball.

“I’m always nervous first snap, and then after the first snap I’m fine,” Verner said Tuesday.

“I just have to get my feet set right. Sometimes when I hurry and I don’t get my feet set correctly, I don’t have my hands set right.”

Verner has always lived in McAlester, going to preschool at Lakewood Christian, transferring to McAlester Public Schools for kindergarten and sticking with it all the way through to McAlester High School.

Verner said as a kid he’d always come watch the Buffs at Hook Eales on Fridays. His own football career began in the third grade with flag football.

“Me and Jarome (Smith), he was playing quarterback, and I was an eligible receiver and I was at center,” Verner said. “I caught a pass and made a touchdown in flag football.”

Verner has mostly been a lineman throughout his career. He spent a year as a fullback and “I loved running people over,” but by the time he got to high school, he’d converted back to a fulltime center.

It’s a demanding position, but Verner said he loves the responsibilities and leadership that come with it.

“Getting everybody lined up, getting splits right, calling out the defense, just pretty much making calls and telling people what to expect,” Verner said.

“I love it. I look it as, I’m pissed off every play. It should make you mad if (they) get a sack through us, and it should make you not want to let it happen again.”

McAlester’s other linemen have seemingly had no problem falling in line with Verner’s intensity. McAlester’s coaches must like too, as they made him a captain for this senior season.

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