By MICHAEL KELLY
CANAJOHARIE -- After a sophomore season of ups and downs, quarterback Jace Fox is ready to break out for the Canajoharie Cougars.
Fox saw limited action as a freshman before fully taking the reins for head coach Ken Sullivan's squad in 2013. In the campaign, Fox showed the flashes of brilliance -- such as in his Week 2 performance against Whitehall, in which he completed 7 of 14 passes for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns -- that had left the Cougars confident they had found themselves a player capable of being a three-year starter.
A preseason into his second season leading the Canajoharie offense, Fox has grown by leaps and bounds, Sullivan said during a recent preseason practice.
"Right now, you already know he's more on page with what we want to do," said the coach. "Playing for me last year, he has a sense of what I want to do and a real sense for what we're trying to accomplish. He can almost see in my mind what we've got coming next."
Fox will also start in the secondary for the Cougars, but it will be his play on offense that will allow him the most opportunities to help Canajoharie improve upon its 5-3 mark from last season. The junior said he knows, too, that he needs to be more vocal on the field.
"This year, I'm trying to step up into more of a leadership role," Fox said.
Sullivan said he has already seen improvement in that area from his quarterback. The difference, Sullivan said, between being a rookie starter and a veteran with a full season under his belt is apparent with the way Fox has carried himself during the preseason.
"He has a much better huddle presence," said Sullivan. "He's proven in his spot and, when he speaks, the kids really turn and listen to him. It's a different atmosphere."
That confidence has rippled throughout the Cougars' offense, which was able to cycle through multiple pieces of its playbook in the first week of practice.
"The flow at practice has been good. We've been running plays, ripping off plays fast. We've been sharp," said Fox. "We have a lot of leadership on that side of the ball."
A threat to run and pass, Fox will be the focal point of opposing defenses all season. In dealing with that, the junior said the pressure won't get to him and he's carrying the simplest -- and likely most effective -- mantra with him throughout the season.
"Just keep getting better every day," he said.
Contact MICHAEL KELLY at michael.kelly@