ST. PETERSBURG — As a quarterback, Canterbury’s Jake Holsinger is a gritty, intelligent performer who can make snap decisions with defenders in his face.
Though he has been a starter at the sport’s glamor position the past two seasons, Holsinger, a senior, has yearned to be the quarterback of the defense.
“I love playing linebacker because I love hitting people,” Holsinger said. “And I’ve always wanted to play middle linebacker.”
Crusaders coach Bill Jones was hesitant on making that move. After all, middle linebacker is a brutally concussive position where collisions are the norm.
“I didn’t want him playing in the middle because he would have to take on a lot of contact and we couldn’t afford to lose him at quarterback,” Jones said.
But after allowing 28 points per game through the first half of the season, Jones relented. He moved Holsinger to the middle. Fierce and intense, Holsinger has become an extension of the coach on the field. His play has helped shore up a Canterbury defense that has allowed a combined 15 points in its past four games.
“Once we started to get into playoff contention, I decided we might as well put our best players in the best position possible and roll the dice,” Jones said. “It certainly has worked so far.”
Holsinger has played outside linebacker since he was a freshman and possesses a remarkable combination of speed, tackling ability, versatility and instinct. He is second on the team in tackles with 65 and has two interceptions and two sacks.
“I just like going to the ball and hitting running backs,” Holsinger said. “Each week, we’re trying to hold a running back to under 100 yards rushing.”
At quarterback, Holsinger has blossomed into a capable passer and has propelled Canterbury into its first postseason appearance and playoff victory. He has thrown for 1,130 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“I told Jake at the beginning of the season that he was going to have to throw the ball better,” Jones said. “Over the past few games he’s been as good as anyone out there. And he’s helped give us the balance we needed and not be so one-dimensional. He’s been the leader on both sides of the ball.”