NICEVILLE — Will Koch gushes about his offensive line.

Waxes poetic about his wide receivers.

Speaks with unflinching confidence about his upperclassman-laden defense.

Standing 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Niceville’s senior play caller not only looks the part – so much so that Southern Miss and Jacksonville State have offered him – but he says all the right things.

He’s projectable. He’s a leader. All the intangibles and tangibles? He checks off all the boxes — on paper, in practice and in the weight and locker rooms.

Yet a shadow looms over the face of the Eagles.

Knee injuries. No playoff wins. No victories over Crestview. What some label unfulfilled expectations, Koch calls “experience.”

“From sophomore year to junior year, it’s been about getting stronger, bigger, faster,” Koch said. “Now I’m to the point where all those things should finally comet together and help me. I just got to take charge, step up and take control.”

Faster comes with running track in the offseason, where he shined as a sprinter with his sub-4.4 40-yard dash speed.

“Coach (Todd) Brigman got me a lot faster," Koch said. "Now I’m there in practice in running a lot more, showing confidence in tucking it when nothing’s open and gaining yards.”

A budding relationship with offensive coordinator Adron Robinson has also paid dividends. Whereas last year an injured Koch was supplanted by Jack White under center, where Koch threw for just 581 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions in five appearances — this is unquestionably Koch’s offense in his swan song.

“I got a little more control of the offense and coach Adron, that’s my man. I have great trust in him,” Koch said. “There’s a new energy that I feel got our team back together.”

And Koch feels he has ample weapons to move the chains.

“We got Mi'Quel (Coward), Juice – Dramarian McNulty at slot, and Luke Unterseh, one the best players on the team who will catch everything,” Koch said. We have a lot of weapons out there who can get by people and can catch over the top.

“With the O-line giving me time, I’ll be comfortable back there. We’ll be slinging it around.”

In grade school, Will Koch was one of those kids living for the moment of receiving a high-five from a Niceville player at halftime. Now he is that player.

And the expectations – beginning with that four-game losing streak to Crestview – are large.

“That Crestview game is everything to me,” Koch said. “If we a come together and play fore each other, I’m telling you we could go to state.”

Q&A

Who's your favorite Marvel character?

Batman. (said without sarcasm)

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

Probably invisibility because you could do whatever and no one would know.

What's your favorite football movie?

“The Blind Side.” I just think his story through the whole movie is great, inspiring.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring three items with you, what'd they be?

A phone, definitely a phone. Probably a fishing pole so I could catch some food. And probably a knife.

Let's talk team goals. What are the team's strengths, weaknesses?

I think our strengths are definitely our defense. And our weaknesses? I don’t want to talk about weaknesses. I can’t think of any weaknesses, just strengths.

It's been 24 years since an area team (FWB in 1995) won it all. Is this the year, whether it be y'all or another team, break that drought?

Hopefully, but I think Niceville can do it. Just the way we’re playing more for each other than ourselves, I think if we keep playing like that we can be really good.

Why do you think has that drought has lasted so long?

The teams down south are just straight talent all over. We don’t really have all that up North, but this team we’re really fighting for each other. We don’t really have the talent we’ve had before. We’re playing more together.

Let's talk individual goals. What are you gunning for this year?

I’m not really worried about that. I just want a ring.

Say someone moved to the area and needed to root for a HS football program. How would you sell your program?

Just go on Friday and look at it. The stadium, the crowds, the energy – it’s just different at Niceville.

If you could play with any NFL player, who would it be and why?

Baker Mayfield. I just love everything about him.

Who's the most talented player on your team aside from yourself?

That’s tough to say. Let’s just say my O-line, my whole O-line.

Can you explain the new RPI playoff system?

I have no idea. What’s going on? I’m just worried about playing.