Friday September 6, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
READYING TO FIRE — Senior Jake Dolegala will get his chance full-time behind center in a more high octane St. Francis offense. Photo by Ron Larson.
St. Francis is readying for a season in which it plans to air the ball out. And why not. It seems to suit its personnel pretty well.
The Red Raiders return 6-foot-3 senior quarterback Jake Dolegala, whose big arm impressed potential college suitors during the offseason. Also, St. Francis’ most experienced runners back from last year have only 33 and 32 carries at the varsity level.
So, the 2013 team plans to throw the ball a little more than most are used to seeing at this level and from a typical St. Francis team, according to head coach Jerry Smith.
“We’ve got the quarterback,” said the 26th-year coach at St. Francis. “We’re going to throw the ball and do some things with that and try to maintain some ball control.”
Dolegala’s offseason was so impressive that Smith said the senior signal caller will have a number of colleges from a variety of levels at the Red Raiders’ first few games.
“Jake’s been going non-stop with his work,” Smith said. “A bunch of schools are highly interested and want to get some game film on him. They want to see if he can do on the field what he was doing at camps.”
Coming into Red Raiders’ camp this preseason, Dolegala is also brewing with anticipation for what’s ahead. Using his skill set, St. Francis plans to run a high-flying offense that should spread the field and create big-play opportunities.
“The offseason went well so now we’re out here just trying to put things together,” said Dolegala of Hamburg after the first day of practice. “We’re excited. It should be a very fast paced year.”
Dolegala received some playing time behind starter Brian Melisz last season and showed signs of his potential. He threw the ball 94 times and had four touchdowns in limited playing time.
However, he did go through some first-year varsity growing pains, completing only 39 percent of those passes and being intercepted 13 times. Smith believes that experience and the offseason work should have Dolegala a more confident quarterback.
“He just needs to finish on his throws and put the ball where it needs to be,” Smith said. “He’s emerged as a strong leader, so now he just needs to produce. At the quarterback position, it’s all about production.”
Dolegala’s teammates are just as ready to get going with this exciting offensive scheme.
“I’ve never been a part of anything like this — it’s up-tempo, some no huddle,” said fellow senior Mike Miller, who will start at safety and play some receiver. “I feel like everyone is going to get a chance offensively and defensively. If we can make it work — and I think we will, it will be a lot of fun.”