Expectations were through the roof for Selatian Straughter last fall.
Coming off a remarkable sophomore season, in which he led the county in rushing and was second in passing, Monroe Area football fans couldn’t wait to see what their returning quarterback would do for an encore.
Unfortunately, after enduring a pair of early injuries, the junior signal caller was finally lost for the season when he tore his meniscus midway through the regular season.
“It was tough for us and the team,” Hurricanes head coach Kevin Reach said. “After he hurt his back in the first game against Loganville, you could tell he wasn’t the same quarterback from a year ago.”
Fortunately, as he prepares for his final season at Monroe, Straughter is in the best shape of his life, and he’s aching to make up for lost time.
From a team perspective, he’s hoping to get the Hurricanes back in the playoffs for the sixth straight season.
But he’s also got some personal business to take care of.
“My goal is to catch Chandler Byron,” Straughter said.
That would be his predecessor at quarterback, who set an impossibly high bar for all who might come after him, including setting a state record for most rushing yards in a single season by a quarterback.
Straughter had high hopes last fall of surpassing Byron’s record-setting stats by the end of his career. Given last year’s lost season, he’s way behind in that pursuit. But that doesn’t mean he can’t leave a lasting mark at Monroe.
“I want to make big plays and be able to score at will,” Straughter said.
It was something that Byron perfected during his two seasons under center. Straughter certainly has all the tools: good size, strong arm, speed and shiftiness. And he’ll have a more experienced offensive line to take care of him
Given his injuries, and his desire to stay healthy this fall, Straughter might be less inclined to bail out on plays so early and use his legs.
“The run game won’t change,” Straughter insists. “But I do hope to get stronger in the pocket and keep my eyes downfield.”
In addition to avoiding injuries, Straughter will need to improve his stamina since he’ll likely be playing a lot, if not starting, at safety on defense.
“We’ll have him in there on certain situations,” Reach said. “He’s got such a great nose for the ball.”
Despite losing its starting quarterback for half the season, Monroe managed to keep winning, going 4-2 without Straughter and earning a postseason bid.
“I think it humbled him,” Reach said. “The fact we kept winning showed him that it wasn’t all about me, it’s a team sport.”
Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue that the Hurricanes might have done even better with Straughter taking the snaps.
If he can stay healthy, Monroe might get a glimpse of what might have been.