Jake Lloyd calls himself a "nervous kid." It might surprise those who watched him play.
Then again, the Timpview quarterback had a few rough outings as a junior. He acknowledges it. And he knew he had to do better.
"I honestly didn't know what was going on half the time," he said. "I was more scared because everyone was so much bigger. But this year, I could sit back and know what I wanted to do before the play. I didn't get nervous in those final games because we knew what we needed to do."
With increased confidence not to mention a pretty spot-on delivery Lloyd was the leader the Thunderbirds needed to guide them through a challenging season.
After dropping the season opener to Alta, Timpview never lost again. At least not on the field.
An ineligible player was discovered on the roster late in the year. It prompted the Utah High School Activities Association to make the program forfeit all of the games the player had participated in.
That penalty was on top of losing its region title last season and losing its coach in the offseason. It was a discouraging time for the Thunderbirds.
"We were working hard, but things were happening that we couldn't prevent," Lloyd said. "It just kills your morale: on the field, in the weight room, in the classroom. It just gets you down. But like the coaches say: Adversity builds champions."
Lloyd made that his motto, throttling opposing secondaries with eye-popping throwing numbers. Relying on a talented receiving corps as well as his improved instincts, Lloyd threw at least three touchdown passes in every game after the initial loss to Alta. He finished the season with 3,894 yards passing and a state record-tying 53 touchdown passes.
But Lloyd truly cemented his MVP candidacy when faced with the end of Timpview's season. The senior led a comeback against Mountain Crest by throwing a touchdown in overtime then running for another score in double overtime to seal the Thunderbirds' fifth championship in seven years.
"I think one of the things that summarizes our season was going one step back then two steps forward," Lloyd said. "We kept taking steps back, but then we would win games. And then the playoffs came and we took steps and steps. It was amazing."