Student Athlete of the Week: Gautier Quarterback Kaden Irving
WXXV Student Athlete of the Week is back for the 2021-2022 school year. This week’s selection recently caught the attention of Sports Illustrated All-American declaring him the nation’s high school football ‘Freak of the Week’ after his freakish game against Pascagoula in Friday’s Singing River Classic.
News 25’s Grace Boyles spoke with the Gators’ star dual sport athlete Kaden Irving. Just two weeks into the season, the junior quarterback has taken the Coast high school football scene by storm, dominating our Friday Night Showcase highlights and showing no sign of slowing down.
Anyone who knows Irving knows that behind his happy-go-lucky smile and attitude is a fierce competitor on both the football field and the baseball diamond.
As a sophomore, quarterback Kaden Irving racked up just under 2,400 passing yards while playing in only seven games. Irving averaged 342 yards per game during the 2020 season, the only quarterback in the state to average more than 300.
Picking up right where he left off, Irving is soaring to new heights, two games into his junior season, throwing for 493 yards, six touchdowns, and rushing for another score in Gautier’s 52-41 win over Pascagoula in the Singing River Classic. Gautier Head Football Coach Marcus High said, “He’s put in the work. He’s put in the work to get to this point. And he’s always– we’ve always instilled in him is outwork the next guy and he’s always done that whether it’s in school, football, baseball, I think in his last basketball game he had five threes. So, he’s always pushed himself to outwork others.”
Even when outworking others means bringing his baby from child development class to an interview. “This is Caleb. He is currently about two weeks old. So, yeah.”
As a freshman, Irving was handed the reigns to the Gators offense, quickly earning the respect of the locker room and flourishing as a leader on the field. “Coming in here as a ninth grader, taking over a team, I had a lot of people look up to me. And so just making sure I’m leading them the right way, having them under my wing.”
“He understands that people watch him and everything he does. And like most leaders when he says something, it tends to stick with them a lot more.”
While consistently producing impressive stats and performances on the field and having the pressure of leading both the varsity football and baseball team since he was a freshman, Irving makes sure to keep everything light-hearted and fun. “He’s a fun-loving guy. You know, Kaden’s the one everyone gravitates to when you have that type of young man. And he’s always the joke teller, telling all the jokes and making the funnies and all that. So, we get a kick out of him.”
“It’s stressful, but just try not to worry about it. Like I said, again just go have fun. That’s all it is to it. It’s all you can do when stuff like this is going on.”
Halfway through his freshman year, Irving verbally committed to play baseball at Ole Miss. However, the dual sport athlete’s explosive start to his junior football campaign could open up doors to other opportunities after high school. “Whatever Kaden decides, we’re going to be behind him the whole way, but he’s going to have plenty of options to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life.”
Those decisions aren’t on Irving’s mind right now though. There’s something else he’s focusing his energy on. “A state championship. That’s about it.”
You can check out Irving and the Gators at the swamp this Friday as they host Moss Point.
To nominate someone you believe deserves to be featured as WXXV’s Student Athlete of the Week, please reach out to Grace Boyles through email (email@example.com), Facebook (@GraceBBoyles), and Twitter (@GraceBBoyles).
Nominees can participate in any sport and be any age. Make sure to tune in every Wednesday to see which local athlete we spotlight next.