In a season of ups and downs, the Anzar High football team has been able to count on a couple of things: Their coaches and players like Jake Lindholm. The 5-foot-9, 148-pound senior makes an impact on both sides of the ball, as he plays quarterback, running back and defensive end.
However, it’s the effort Lindholm gives on a daily basis and the fact that he hasn’t missed a single practice that has rubbed off on the team in a positive and meaningful way.
“From day one, Jake has been a consummate leader on this team,” Hawks coach Kollin Kosmicki said in an email to the Free Lance. “I saw it from my own watching the guys condition before practices even started. He’s a shining example for others to follow with his attitude about the game, focus and hard work. He hasn’t taken a practice off the entire season, and he hasn’t had a down game the entire season either. I believe those two facts correlate directly. From a mental standpoint, he’s one of the smarter players I’ve seen. He picks up concepts quickly and never forgets an assignment.”
Lindholm has recorded a team-high 10 sacks entering Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Woodside Priory. Over the course of his four-year career, Lindholm has also played cornerback, linebacker and nose tackle. However, this season Lindholm has been an absolute monster at defensive end while being a steady presence at quarterback.
Lindholm’s playmaking ability showed in the team’s second game of the season against Stuart Hall last month. Midway through the second quarter, Lindholm batted a pass up in the air before coming down with it for an interception, a remarkable display of athleticism, instincts and tenacity.
“Even though he’s relatively undersized for the defensive end position, he has a special talent for understanding angles and how to use his frame while getting around the edge of the line,” Kosmicki said. “He’s super quick and tough, though, which makes for a lethal combination. … When he really gets in a rhythm, you just have to sit back in amazement at the guy and how good he really is. He can make play after play after play, and he’s done so throughout the year.”
In Anzar’s run-heavy offense, the quarterback needs to make some great decisions. Once Lindholm receives the snap, he either keeps it, hands it off or passes it. Often times he’ll keep it, using his vision to find a small hole and running lane to go through that most players might not see.
“As a runner, he’s got tremendous speed and has a knack for hitting holes and getting around the edges,” Kosmicki said. “But he’s also ultra-tough and a challenge for any tackler. Usually one tackler can’t bring down Jake.”
Lindholm’s dad, Matt, is an assistant coach on the team and the baseball coach. Jake has been a standout baseball player the last three years, and he said the player/son and coach dynamic has been a rewarding time.
“It’s been a great experience because you get a life coach and real coach in one person,” Jake said, referring to Matt’s former career as a drill instructor and California Highway Patrol officer (he’s now retired). “I feel he connects with kids well because of his background.”
Lindholm became enamored with playing defense ever since he started playing defensive end in his sophomore year. Upon having a conversation with his dad on great defensive ends in NFL history, Lindholm started to watch video of former Rams great Deacon Jones and other Hall of Famers.
“My father was born in 1960 and was a Rams fan,” Jake said. “I always grew up hearing about the old-time players and how great they were. I looked up all the players he talked about, and saw they had a no-holds barred attitude in trying to get sacks. That’s what I try to do when I’m out on the field.”
It’s that type of attitude—along with his talent—that makes Lindholm such a productive player.
“His abilities are really diverse,” Kosmicki said. “He can throw. He can run. He can catch. Of course, he can pursue the quarterback with the best of them. That shows with his sack production, but this guy is putting pressure on the quarterback all game long in every game. He could even play defensive back if we need it, but of course we can use him at just one spot at a time. And we need him where he plays on the line.”
At 3-2, Anzar has already tripled its win total from last year. It’s been a feast or famine type of season for the Hawks, who have blown out two teams while being on the losing end of a lopsided decision twice.
The Hawks’ upcoming opponent, Woodside Priory, is ranked 17th in the state by Maxpreps.com. The Hawks should be better equipped to deal with Woodside Priory after playing some rugged teams in Stuart Hall and Pinewood, squads that are ranked 22nd and 25th in the state, respectively.