Facing linebackers with sprinters' speed along with athletic 260-pound defensive linemen coming at you from all directions can be troublesome for even the most seasoned quarterbacks.
But when you are a high school sophomore quarterback, it can be overwhelming. Just ask Drew Millas of Belleville East, the first Belleville News-Democrat Football Player of the Week.
Thrown into the wars of the Southwestern Conference for the final four games of the 2013 season, Millas helped lead the Lancers to upset wins over O'Fallon and Granite City.
But it wasn't easy.
"It all started at the end of the Alton game,'' Millas recalled this week. "I just came in and did the best that I could. It was definitely tough but playing those four games gave me confidence and helped prepare me for this year.''
Millas was definitely prepared for the Lancers 2014 season opener at Normal. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound junior quarterback completed 16 of 27 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns as the Lancers scored a 28-21 win.
With the Lancers running attack bottled up by the Normal defense, Millas was the difference maker as he threw scoring passes of seven yards to Brady Schanuel and 51 yards to Os Moore. Tony Dean added a 19-yard touchdown reception on a tipped pass as Millas riddled the Normal defense with pinpoint accuracy.
"The touchdown pass to Brady was just on a comeback pattern and he made a nice catch on it while the one to Os was a 15-yard out. He got a great block from (Tony) Dean and he was gone. When Os gets a step on a defender, he's not going to be caught,'' Millas said. "The offensive line did a great job of blocking all night.
"The coaches did a great job of preparing us for this game. We noticed early that the running game wasn't working the way we wanted it to and so we decided to go to the air. I have no idea when was the last time East threw 27 passes in a game. I guess the coaches had confidence in me and we went with what was working.''
Lancers coach Tim Funk did have confidence in Millas after what he saw from him at the end of last season. Although missing the playoffs, the Lancers played well in a win over O'Fallon and a loss to Edwardsville in their final two games.
"Adjusting to the differences in the speed of the game from the sophomore level to the varsity level last year, we thought Drew did a pretty good job the last four weeks,'' Funk said. "We thought that he would be better this season mainly because he's just so competitive and works so hard at it.
"But it was a team effort. The offensive line did a nice job of protecting him and we've got a nice group of receivers. That helps.''
Millas spent the offseason and summer months working with former Althoff quarterback Dale Fink.
One of the top quarterbacks in Althoff history, Fink went on to a record-setting career at Sacred Heart University, where he broke the Northeast Conference career mark in passing yards with 8,803 and touchdown passes with 82.
Fink is now an assistant coach at Mater Dei High School.
"He's actually my neighbor and I've known him since I was little," Millas said. "We've been working together for three or four years now. He definitely helped my mechanics out. I also worked with all of the coaches here at East and just put in a lot of hard work.
"But he (Fink) and I worked a lot on my mechanics and my footwork in the pocket.''
Millas' athletic prowess isn't limited to the football field. A rare three-sport athlete in the Southwestern Conference, Millas plays basketball and baseball for the Lancers. He is a standout catcher.
"It's something I've always done. My favorite sport varies depending on what season it is. But I guess my future is probably in baseball,'' Millas said. "I'm just a very competitive person. I like hanging out with my friends, but I love playing sports.''
Millas' competitive nature also helps him the classroom where he carries a 4.5 GPA.
"Drew is just a remarkable student-athlete. When he's not studying he's playing sports,'' Funk said. "I wish there were more kids like him that played three sports. Now I think more of an emphasis is put on specializing in one sport.''
Millas and the Lancers face another test on Friday when they host Normal West High School at 7 p.m.
"My goals are pretty simple. I want to compete and I want to do what I can to help this team win football games,'' Millas said. "The goal is to make the playoffs and we'll take it from there.''