For Manhattan High, this football season has been a challenge.
Adjusting to a new group of players and a new offensive scheme haven’t been easy, especially in the case of quarterback Jacob Holloway.
Holloway, a senior who spent his entire football career at the quarterback position until last year, was instead a defensive player in 2011, starting every game at weak safety. With 2011’s large senior class now gone, Holloway has stepped back into the quarterback role, and is one of four leaders chosen by the rest of the team.
“He’s one of our captains and was elected by his teammates, which shows he has great respect from his peers — his senior classmates,” MHS head coach Joe Schartz said. “That’s not something that’s earned overnight. That’s a testament to what he has done over the years in this program, as far as the hard work in the weight room and on the practice field. That’s an honor to be elected captain.”
Holloway leads the Indians against undefeated Topeka Seaman tonight at Bishop Stadium.
Coming into this season, Holloway had his work cut out for him.
He had to learn a new offensive scheme that features the shotgun predominantly, while also retaining the old offense used in previous years.
“I had to learn a totally new offense,” Holloway said. “In JV (as a sophomore), we had some shotgun stuff, but this year is completely new. We still use all of the plays that we used to, but we’ve been adding a lot.”
Holloway said learning the new playbook was tough, but readjusting to the quarterback position after a year away was also a challenge.
“I didn’t even take one rep on offense last year,” he said. “Maybe at wide receiver in practice sometime, but definitely not any quarterback.”
For this Manhattan High team to find success, Holloway will have to be at his best. In Week 1 against Mill Valley, he shined and the game was a blowout in favor of the Indians. Against Emporia, the run game stalled and the passing game never clicked in a shutout loss.
“He’s getting better every week,” Schartz said. “I know he had a misstep last week, at least the numbers show that, but he’s going to learn from that and get better as the season goes along.
“Jake’s best attribute is his speed and his competitiveness. He wants to win, and he’ll find a way to get things done so that the team can win.”
Holloway said his personal goals are the same as the teams. He’s looking for a win against Junction City and for his team to make it past the second round of the playoffs.
Holloway’s strength right now is in his legs, but he’s making strides as a passer. He also pointed to leadership as one of his best attributes.
“I’m probably a better runner, but my passing game has gotten a lot better,” he said. “I’m still improving with my throwing mechanics.”
The senior said it was hard to leave the quarterback position behind last year, even if it did mean the chance to start on the varsity defense.
“It was tough, but given the opportunity to start, just to be on the field Friday night at whatever position they put me at,” he said. “I just wanted to be out on the field.”
Now at quarterback, Holloway is more comfortable than ever, playing a position he’s played his whole football career.
“I’ve always been the person with the ball in my hands,” he said. “I played quarterback in middle school, so my junior year was the only year I didn’t play offense.”
Schartz said he expects improvement each week this season from his quarterback, knowing how hard it can be to step in to the toughest position on the field at the varsity level.
“It’s tough to come into that position,” he said. “The speed of the game is fast, so it’s going to take some time. But he’s done a fantastic job so far. He’s our best option at quarterback.”
For those that can’t make it to the game, live video will be streamed on The Mercury’s website. Find the link on http://www.themercury.com.