Being a quarterback that predominantly hands the ball off is nothing new to Phillipsburg High School’s Trey Sides.
A gifted and multi-talented athlete and the son of coaches, the junior for the Panthers understands his role on a team looking to make a run in Class 3A this season.
Being a competitor, though, that doesn’t mean he’s not ready to do whatever is necessary to get the job done.
He’ll carry the load if he needs to. But for now, he’s perfectly happy just putting the ball in the hands of Phillipsburg’s numerous playmakers out of a loaded backfield.
“Whatever is going to get our team the win,” Sides said. “We’ve got big strong running backs. Why not use them?”
Yet another sign of how the junior — who’s father, Keith, was his junior high football and high school basketball coach, and his mother, Robin, is a basketball and volleyball coach — has grown up in the program.
He’s been the starting signal caller for the Panthers since his freshman year, yet he hasn’t been the one garnering all the headlines or racking up the honors and numbers through the years.
He’s fine with that, he says, as long as the Panthers keep winning. And it’s worked. Sides only has experienced three losses as the starter, and quarterbacked the 2015 Class 2-1A championship team as a freshman.
“He’s the ultimate team player. Wants the team to win,” said Panther coach J.B. Covington. “First game he ran the ball one time and he has the capability to run it 12 to 15 times. He’s perfectly happy handing it off if that’s what we need.”
As a freshman on the title team, Sides had 72 rushes for 302 yards, and scored three touchdowns. He also had 549 passing yards and eight passing scores. In his second year, the numbers came up a little bit. He had 66 carries for 536 yards and 10 scores. He also completed 44 passes for nine touchdowns.
So far in the Panthers’ 2-0 start, he has been used sparingly, but did manage the team’s only rushing score last week in a 23-0 win at Smith Center. He has 11 carries through two games for 36 yards. He also has thrown just 13 passes for 156 yards — one being a 59-yard score last week to senior Kirk Coomes.
“Kind of been working on the passing game quite a bit this year,” said Sides, who stands 6-foot-1 and around 150 pounds. “Whatever coach calls upon me to do, I’m going to do it. Or at least try to do it.”
This season, coaches have expected a little more out of the junior. At one point during last week’s game, the Panthers went to a no-huddle, and Sides was calling plays at the line of scrimmage.
“Really a smart IQ player,” Covington said. “He’s basically a coach on the field.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Sides also broke up several pass plays against the rival Redmen, and has been just as consistent on defense through three seasons. He had two interceptions in each of his first two seasons and already has a pick this year.
This week on the road at Plainville — the Panthers’ third straight road game to start the season — Sides said he expects to have a busy day on that side. He said Plainville likely will try to spread the ball out a little bit with sophomore quarterback Jordan Finnesy. If they do, he’ll be ready. Playing along side some of the great players through his career, he said, did nothing but help — especially the first year.
“Very good senior class (freshman year), just all really took care of me and helped me out,” Sides said. “And it helps some of my class has been on the field, too.”
This season, Sides also has his younger brother, Ty, in practices. Ty is the backup quarterback as a freshman, another talented Panther on a loaded club just waiting for his turn to contribute.
And, if not, there is always basketball season — at least for Trey. That’s where the junior takes over the spotlight, and for now, he said, if college athletics is going to be an option, it likely will come on the hardwood.