Success on the football field has not gone to Nick Patterson's head.
Even after enjoying a breakout 2020 campaign during Mooresville's run to a third straight Class 4A sectional crown as well as its first regional title, the 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior quarterback still was not satisfied.
"I knew that as a player there were phases of my game that I wanted to improve upon going into my junior season to be even more effective in 2021," recalled Patterson. "The first thing that I did was dedicate myself to the weight room on improving my strength by focusing in on speed and agility with Coach (Craig) Ray and the strength and conditioning staff."
After competing 150-of-253 (60 percent) for 2,212 yards with 21 touchdowns and just five interceptions last fall, Patterson has gone 178-of-246 (72 percent) for 2,740 yards with 35 touchdowns and six interceptions this year.
He has also proven to be a threat with his legs by running 63 times for 311 yards with six scores.
"During our summer practices I worked with (offensive coordinator and quarterback Coach (Casey) Gillin with a focus on improving my quickness and footwork along with learning to use my lower body more while throwing the ball, explained Patterson, who ran for 774 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago. "We spent quite a bit of time on my release point which has also allowed helped me in getting the ball out quicker to our skill players in passing situations. Last, but certainly not the least, I worked hard in the off season on reading defensive alignments and coverages and what the opponent is doing which has helped tremendously as the season has progressed."
These improvements have paid off for the No. 6 (Class 4A) Pioneers (8-2) with five receivers accumulating 20 or more receptions.
"The experience that I was able to gain my sophomore year, along with the time that I put in during the summer training on reading defensive coverages has not necessarily slowed the game down, but has given me the ability to adapt quicker than I was able to in 2020," Patterson said. "Having an offensive line that works as hard as our guys do along with a group of versatile skill players that make plays when their number is called has allowed our offense and I to put up respectable numbers on Friday nights throughout the 2021 season."
Patterson's production has not gone unnoticed as he is among the top five players in passing yards in Indiana along with the likes of Covington's Alan Karrfalt and Brady Allen of Gibson Southern.
"It is an honor to be in the top three in passing yards in the state of Indiana representing the Mooresville Pioneers, along with Brady Allen and Alan Karrfalt and their respective teams," Patterson said. "It starts up front with our offensive line that allows me the ability to distribute the ball to our receivers and running backs that make consistent plays.
"However, it is important that I remain humble and work to continue to improve as we enter the Class 4A Sectional 23 playoffs. Each week, Coach (Casey) Gillin and I look for areas of my game that I can improve upon for the next opponent, so I must remain patient and continue to get better each day I go out and compete."
Just as he did last fall, Patterson is trying to do his part to help the 2021 squad achieve some memorable moments.
"The 2020 season and team was a special group to be a part of with a senior class that appeared in four consecutive sectional championship games and won three consecutive sectional titles," Patterson said. "To compare the 2020 and 2021 teams is tough since both teams are exceptional in their own right.
"We lost 22 players to graduation, so filling the shoes of such a successful class is tough, but we have done a good job trying to do just that. We have had guys step up on the offensive and defensive lines that have played well all season along with guys that have made plays both offensively and defensively that have resulted in big plays each and every week.
"Our team knows what is expected of them and as a whole we have worked hard every day to get better as a team in the film room and on the practice field to ensure we are ready for Friday nights. The 2021 squad will continue to build on the winning tradition and expectations that have been set in years past."
In addition to Casey Gillin, head coach Mike Gillin has also played a big role in Patterson's performance.
"Coach (Mike) Gillin and the coaching staff have instilled a winning atmosphere that the players feed off of allowing for success on and off the field," explained Patterson. "The stability and consistency of the coaching staff gives us the confidence in our ability to compete at a very high level knowing we are prepared on Friday nights.
"They ensure us that they do their jobs to ensure that we are able to do ours. We have a tremendous amount of trust in Coach (Mike) Gillin and the coaching staff which is the main ingredient in successful teams.
The veteran mentor Mike Gillin has definitely been impressed with Patterson's progress.
"I have worked with a lot of players in my career, and Nick's work ethic is second to none," said Mike Gillin. "Nick puts in the work on and off the field with the mentorship of Coach (Casey) Gillin and his teammates which has helped lead to what Nick and the team have been able to accomplish the past two seasons."
Heading into their sectional semifinal contest with No. 5 East Central (8-2) on October 29, Patterson knows past post-season success is meaningless at this point.
"As we move into the post season, it is important we continue to prepare as we have for nine weeks, work hard and do not look past our Friday night opponent," Patterson said. "Like the regular season, it is important that the team stays healthy and we play the tournament one week at a time. With a little luck, our team will have a successful post season run."