Mitchell Gale is a man of many talents. He was a varsity athlete in baseball and basketball in high school, but his first love – and his future – was football.
“I can’t even remember when I started playing, it was so long ago,” the red-shirt freshman Gale said. “It’s all I have known.”
Gale lost only seven football games in three years as a starter for the Alva Goldbugs, a 2A Oklahoma high school team. Although he never made it past the quarterfinals in the state tournament, he knows what it takes to win big games.
“It’s all about hard work,” Gale said. “I give it my all every single practice and game.”
Gale’s decision to come to ACU wasn’t a hard one. An opposing coach from Canadian High School actually turned ACU on to Gale, after Gale played an excellent game against Canadian.
After one visit, Gale knew he was in the right place.
“I got here and I just fell in love with the place,” Gale said.
He was hoping the starting quarterback position, left open when Billy Malone graduated, would be the right place for him this season. But with last year’s backup, Zach Stewart, and Clark Harrell competing with Gale for the job, he knew it would be tough to win.
“Coach Thomsen said that whoever worked the hardest in spring practice and throughout the summer would have the job,” Gale said. “I made it my goal to work harder than anyone else.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as planned, and he started the season third on the depth chart.
“It was frustrating,” Gale said. “But, I knew the coaches had the best interest of the team in mind. I just told myself to keep working hard.”
Working hard for Gale means improving his speed, distance and accuracy. He said he models his play off his idol, Joe Montana. Gale already has a strong arm, and he is quick when he needs to be. He also relies heavily on Malone, who he views as his mentor, he said.
“Billy has helped me a lot, whether he knows it or not,” Gale said. “Just getting to talk with him and learning from his experience of starting as a freshman has really been great.”
The ACU offense struggled through the first few games, while the coaches tried to make up their minds about which of the quarterbacks in the Gale-Stewart-Harrell triumvirate to choose. Gale was finally chosen two weeks ago, and the decision has paid big dividends.
So far, he is 2-0 as starter and has thrown four touchdowns. The Wildcats have walked away with easy victories in those two games; however, the next four will test Gale. Two of the four games are against ranked teams, and the others are against 5-2 Midwestern State and the Wildcats’ biggest rival, West Texas A&M.
“I’m not focused on who we are playing,” Gale said. “It’s about us doing what we do best. If we do that, we will win. Our defense is going to play lights-out football, and with our running game going the way it is, it makes my job so much easier.”
Gale will play the biggest game of his career, in front of more fans than ever before, against West Texas on Saturday.
“I’m not nervous,” Gale said. “I don’t get nervous. I just get butterflies. Once I take that first snap, though, I am in the zone. I don’t feel anything.”
Gale should be ready when the Wildcats step onto the field for the Homecoming game as the No. 1 team in the nation.
“When I was in high school, I would daydream of stuff like this,” he said. “It is still so exciting to think about.”