Summit High School football impresses in preseason scrimmage with new quarterback at helm
Junior Jack Schierholz throws TD, plays error-free football in audition ahead of Friday’s season-opener at Delta
With 2021 graduate Cam Kalaf departed to the Colorado Mesa University football program, the Summit High School scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 21, versus Evergreen was the first look at how junior Jack Schierholz will succeed Kalaf at the quarterback position.
Kalaf was a do-it-all dual-threat signal caller for the Tigers during their 1-4, COVID-shortened 2020 season. He threw for 200 yards per game and 10 touchdowns to just four interceptions through the air while adding 72 yards per game and five touchdowns on the ground.
Kalaf was a special talent and leader, yes, but Wagner and Tigers offensive coordinator Sean Mase are confident the 6-foot-2, 200-pound southpaw Schierholz can sling the football from the pocket to any spot on the field. That pocket presence was on display Saturday ahead of Summit’s season-opening road trip to one of the best 2A teams in the state, Delta.
“We see him in practice, we know what kind of talent he is,” Wagner said. “Against varsity talent in a game-like setting — actually executing the offense and making smart decisions — he did that, today.”
Saturday versus Evergreen, Schierholz — a crucial component of the Tigers baseball team as a sophomore last spring — also exhibited his arm ability. The highlight of the day during the Summit first team’s time versus Evergreen’s top line was a 30-yard touchdown strike to senior preseason All-State candidate Aidan Collins. It came on a fade route into the narrow side of the field a play after Schierholz assessed the identical press man coverage situation against Collins. He determined the crafty Collins could win the one-on-one matchup, so he let it rip.
Schierholz, Collins and the Tigers held the lead after that opening strike for some time against Evergreen. Though score wasn’t kept on Saturday — coaches on each side practiced game-like situations while mixing varsity and junior varsity players into the action — the fact that Summit’s top players were able to score first and play at the level of Evergreen was a great sign to Wagner. The Cougars qualified for the 3A state playoffs — the place Summit wants to be this season — last season. Schierholz’s ability to orchestrate the offense was a huge part of that.
“Taking care of the football is so important — especially in the beginning of the season,” Wagner said. “For Jack to come out there and have command of the offense, that’s what we were looking for him to do: being a leader and being able to execute.”
After the scrimmage, Schierholz was ever the quarterback. He credited his offensive line with his ability to make plays and sustain drives. But the plaudits for the line aren’t limited to the QB. For the first time in Wagner’s three years at the helm, Summit has physicality and cohesion in the trenches that will enable them to make opponents, well, move.
For years the challenge for Summit football coaches has been manifesting enough big bodies up above 9,000 feet to form a wall for Summit’s backfield skill players. Though this year’s group is beefier — 6-foot-3, 270-pound sophomore Eli Krawczuk the most massive — it’s not all sheer girth. More importantly, Wagner has a directive leader at center in Cam Kalaf’s brother, senior Graham Kalaf, who is hell-bent on making sure the Tigers’ union of five linemen move as one.
That band of brothers includes emerging guards in senior Jake Boyle and junior Ronaldo Wray. And then there’s a 5-foot-5, 150-pound left tackle in GC Martinez, who Wagner said despite his diminutive size for a left tackle, is pound for pound the strongest kid on the team.
“He leverages the big dudes,” Wagner said. “You would never think to put a kid like that at an offensive line position. But I love that kid because it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the heart inside the dog. It’s fun to watch. You don’t expect it, and, all of a sudden, he’s just a beast.”
The toughness in the trenches translates to the defensive side as well, where senior Jackson Segal has returned after missing 2020. The man they call “Geno” provides a jolt from the inside linebacker position. On offense, he’s now providing that punch at running back.
As for the defensive trenches, it’s many of the same faces as offense, as a kid-like Krawczuk is flipping to play defense end when he’s not protecting Schierholz’s blind side.
On Saturday, Krawczuk had a sack and a tackle-for-loss as he pillaged the Cougars on a few plays. The performance came after he gained 45 pounds in the past nine months.
How does one go about putting on that kind of volume in the offseason?
“Pretty much chocolate milk and chicken,” Krawczuk said. “That’s the best bulking food there is, really.”
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