A little more than a year ago, young Myles Washington had been thrust into the task of being the quarterback for the John Curtis football team in one of its biggest games of the year.

Little did the packed Behrman Stadium crowd realize it last September, but Washington was a threat — not only to nationally-ranked Karr but also to the neat Behrman artificial turf at the feet of the Patriots’ huddle.

After starting quarterback Abby Touzet left the game with a broken collarbone, Washington was asked to direct the Patriots offense against Karr, the state’s defending Class 4A champions and winners of 16 consecutive games.

Having just reached his 16th birthday, Washington was sent into the heat of competition by assistant Jeff Curtis. Curtis issued simple directions. “Stay calm, stay under control,” Jeff recalled. Curtis went to other players and told them: “Talk to Myles. Keep him low key.”

At one point, Curtis discovered Washington had given the offense his own message. “He told the players in the huddle, ‘Look if I call a play and throw up, y’all just get out of the way.”

By halftime Washington had assured his coach “the game had slowed down” for him.

The result? Washington secured a 38-33 victory for Curtis, directed the team to a 10-2 record and its third consecutive state title.

When Washington leads the 3A Patriots in their season opener against Ponchatoula Friday night in Ponchatoula, he now represents a key figure in the leadership cadre of Curtis’ football program.

Curtis begins the season ranked No. 1 in the New Orleans Advocate’s Small Schools Super 10. Ponchatoula, a team that reached the 5A regional round of the playoffs, was 8-3 last season.

Head coach J.T. Curtis said Washington, safety Hunter Dale and linebackers Mike Corcoran and Bo Wallace all have leadership qualities needed to replace the 11 starters Curtis lost from a year ago.

Washington is now a chiseled (5-foot-10, 195 pounds) and poised leader who will be a key as Curtis pursues its 27th football state championship. He is a threat to beat opponents with throwing, running and his decision-making.

Washington displayed game-changing, big-play ability last season.

“People are going to have to rush him (as a passer),” J.T. Curtis said. “But they better keep the gaps closed (for runs) because he’ll pop right up inside them and he’ll be down the field in a blink.”

Dale, a free safety, can play strong safety, nickel back and corner. J.T. Curtis said “he could also play linebacker because he’s so physical.”

“Hunter is the guy who’s going to have to lead us back there,” J.T. Curtis said. “He’s a playmaker, and he’s a guy who has a knack for just doing things extremely well. And we’re going to need his leadership.

“We feel good about our two outside linebackers Mikey Cochran and Bo Wallace,” he said. Curtis returns only five defensive starters.

“Those guys have got to set the tone for our defense,” he said. “To set the tone, I mean be aggressive, to be disciplined in our play and to run to the ball.”

Curtis described his leaders as extensions of his coaching staff, able to communicate adjustments and to set an example.

“They have experience,” he said, “and, we should never sell short their commitment to the game of football.”