Nashua North QB Mike Loveless poised for strong season
NASHUA – When Mike Loveless took over as the Nashua High School North varsity quarterback last season, it almost seemed like a seamless transition.
It certainly couldn’t have been expected. After all, the Titans got a superb senior season in 2016 out of Jeff Baldassari, and the position looked like a big question mark going into last fall.
That question mark became a period instead. As in then-junior Mike Loveless. Period.
“He had a real good progression,” Titans head coach Dante Laurendi said. “He hadn’t had many snaps as a quarterback. He played some as a sophomore, but it was more defense. Some of that experience helped. Under the gun, he’s a smart kid, and that definitely helped him running the offense. He knew what he was doing.
“And as you have some success, his confidence grew. We hope he can build on that and take it to the next level.”
Loveless says he learned from those ahead of him in the program.
“It was great, I had a great quarterback before me in Jeff Baldassari,” Loveless said. “Obviously he went away to college … But watching the guy ahead of me, he had a great senior season, I learned a lot from him.
“But Coach Laurendi and Coach (offensive assistant Zach) Harris had a big effect on me, helping me learn the playbook, run through plays.”
Harris said the 7-on-7 summer league play also helped, especially a year ago.
“I was ready,” he said. “The coaches got me ready.”
Loveless arrived in town from the Chicago area with his family prior to the start of his freshman year at North. He has been playing football, it seems, forever.
“I remember the days under the lights where you’re the last team to practice because you’re the youngest,” he said of his days in Lincoln Hills, Ill. “It was great.”
The football players at North made the transition a lot easier, Loveless said. He doesn’t seem much of a difference between the two states as far as the game is concerned. Except that one of his former tackles from his youth days is right now considered a five-star player recruited by the likes of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, etc.
“Football is football,” he said. “You come out here to compete and be the best you can be.”
The Titans are expecting good things again.
“The good thing about Mike is he has a ton of experience from last year,” Laurendi said. “We have him for back-to-back years. We haven’t had that luxury. So obviously the experience will help.
“Mike’s a hard worker. I don’t think he’s missed a lift or a training since he’s been here.”
That fact should impress college coaches. Loveless clearly wants to play beyond his high school days. He’s been going to a lot of camps, hopefully getting the exposure he needs. He’s looking at Division II and III schools for business management. “We all have plans to go on,” he said. “I’m looking all around to see what’s the best fit for me.”
Laurendi says Loveless will have plenty of options because of his good grades, as he’s a National Honor Society student.
Last season, Loveless said it was hard work, but he had fun. He wants to lower his turnovers, “and that comes with just being smart, not trying to force it.
“I have great skilled receivers. A short throw of 3 yards is going to go for 40. … They’re going to take it the distance. I’ve got Austin (Ouellette) on the outside. He went for 99 yards last year.”
Loveless mentioned others, like sophomore Curtis Harris. He has plenty of targets.
“He’s another guy who is very hard on himself,” Laurendi said. “Very competitive, wants to get better. He’s really stepped up in a leadership role. He’s getting more vocal in a positive way, which is good.”
Laurendi feels Loveless’ biggest asset is his strength and competitiveness. “He’s a little bit quicker than he was last year, and he’s a little bit stronger,” Laurendi said. “He’s had a good summer throwing the ball. … It’s a nice threat to have when you have a guy who can run it but also stretch the field.”
Loveless says he’s ready to take the next step. “I’ve got more confidence, I can see defenses coming, obviously going against more speed (than at the sub-varsity level) now.
And we have so many more older guys.”
Including the quarterback, who came in prepared a year ago and looks to continue that theme this fall.