08/11/17 — FOOTBALL PREVIEW -- Wayne Christian

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FOOTBALL PREVIEW -- Wayne Christian

By Justin Hayes
Published in Sports on August 11, 2017 5:53 AM


The chapter and verse of Cole Jacobs is ... different.

He illustrates such at the outset of warmups when first-year Wayne Christian varsity football coach Brad Matthews gives an unpopular directive to his players.

"Hills," he says.

A handful of minutes later, as the players begin laboring through varying degrees of vertical dead sprints, hops, crab shuffles and other measures of oxygen-depriving toil, Jacobs confidently inserts himself into the narrative.

Rest assured, it won't be the last time.

"Come on," he says to no one in particular. "Let's go."

First to complete the up-and-back-down dance o'death between the school's roadside chorus line of Crepe Myrtles, the middle linebacker squints with a hawkish gaze, surveying the damage.

"Do not... slow down," he offers.

And so it went for Jacobs, the pad-popping transfer from Spring Creek High, and the rest of his mates over the balance of their conditioning-inspired, 120-minute workout.

At every turn, he was front and center.


An hour passes and the Eagles are entrenched in a rotating line- of-scrimmage session, when the midpoint of Jacobs' character arc becomes clear.

He's more than a casual talker.

He's a foxhole guy. A platoon leader.

A thorn's thorn and a downhill-all-the-time-type that does not seem to register pain or need water or designated rest breaks like his peers -- meaning, he's the dude you want on your team, but not really the one you're desperate to line up against on a regular basis.

Yeah, it's like that.

And it's primarily because he runs hard, drills hard, high-fives hard, claps hard and slaps you on the helmet hard.

He read-reacts decisively, too, making the split-second world of the second level appear casual, like a Sunday stroll with Fido.

He's everywhere, all the time, pushing positivity with out-of-breath versions of get-a-push and atta-boy -- right before ripping a gainer from his fullback position and letting the rest of the first unit know about it.

"You thought you were getting a tackle, didn't you?" he asks the defense. "You... thought you were getting a tackle."

Jacobs 1, all others 0.


He's also a seeker -- because no one works this hard in as many different ways without a defined purpose. And in a round of Eagles post-workout, he reminds them of the master clock that is unwinding its preseason.

"We have three days left, boys," he says.

The calendar update has no particular aim, mind you, but a very particular timbre, which is when it all becomes clear -- the final verse of his playing days, which started three seasons ago at Spring Creek, is about renewal.

And that's a notion which is quite okay with Matthews, who needs a firebrand-type to consistently roll thunder and help rebrand the gridiron culture on Patetown Road -- and no, he's not worried about Jacobs burning out.

Quite the opposite, actually.

"I'd like for them (players) to get on the same one as he is," Matthews said of his senior's out-of-this-world approach to business. "I want my guys to want to play defense. I want them to have an attacking mindset... (No.) 24 will be a leader out there."

And how could he not be?

After all, he's first to the practice facility.

First to drill.

First to water.

First to be done with water.

First to volunteer. First to critique. First to ask questions, and beyond that, the first to provide answers.

But curiously enough, Jacobs is not first at everything -- for as dusk began its creep over the school, there he was, shouldering a tackling dummy inside Clifford Gymatorium, long after some had already departed.