Michael Kern taking his game to a higher level


Michael Kern taking his game to a higher level

The Michael Kern Watch continues on this season.
Having aleady established himself as a gifted young quarterback while playing in Pop Warner Leagues and all-star games in past years, Kern is getting even better with age.
His banner campaign started in July, when Kern won the Duel in Massillon, Ohio. After finishing second as an incoming sixth grader in 2012 and second as an incoming seventh grader in ’13, he climbed to the top rung in NFA’s showcase event this past summer.
“Coming in second place two years in a row, the second time I was kind of like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” Kern said. “But I think it pushed me a lot harder to get to first place. I went in this year knowing I had what it takes, so I just had to go the extra mile.”

‘Huge confidence builder’

Winning the Duel helped Kern prepare for his current season with AAU Lake Nona in Florida. The 5-foot-6, 110-pounder is playing his first year of football against bigger, stronger defenses, but the results remain stellar.
The Lions are off to a 5-1 start in the 14U league, and Kern has completed 32 of 46 passes (70 percent) for 626 yards and 8 touchdowns. That comes out to a lofty 124.5 QB Rating, and he is also averaging 5.6 rushing yards per carry with another TD.
“Since the competition at the Duel is so good with kids from all around the country, I was kind of nervous going into it,” Kern said. “But knowing that I won it against all those kids, it’s a huge confidence builder. I can walk on the football field knowing I was the No. 1 kid in NFA and no one else on this field is.”
Lake Nona, a powerhouse program in the Orlando area, lost its first game before rattling off five straight wins.
“Out first game, I think we came out overly confident,” Kern said. “But I think it kind of put us in our place and showed us what we needed to work on. I think that was actually good for us. We got to kind of see what our issues were and we worked on fixing them.”
Now that the season has progressed and Kern has gotten used to a new team and new league, the results have been impressive.
“It’s really good,” Kern said. “I like the offense a lot more. We run a couple different formations and we’re spreading defenses out and then we’ll hit them with runs and quick passes and we’ll extend them with long passes. It’s a lot more methodical than last year and I’m getting a lot more opportunites to throw the ball. So far, it’s been an all-around better situation for me.”

All-around work

Kern has obviously benefitted from working with NFA the past five years. All of the work with his mechanics and footwork are showing on the field, but Kern continues taking steps to improve his overall game.
“I’ve been working on the mental part of my game a lot more this season,” he said. “We did a lot of off-season work on mechanics, drops and getting everything into muscle memory physically. Now, I’m working on mental things – the coaches putting defenses out there and reading coverages and telling them where the ball should be going and getting it there. And there’s in-game reps, looking at film, checking tendencies, where perople are lining up, what coverages they’re going to run, when they’re blitzing, a lot of that kind of stuff. Mentally, it’s getting ready for high school, getting ready for the years to come.”
If they are anything like past years or the current season, Kern is going to be an even better quarterback when he reaches high school.

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University