Adam Rostran said it was all a blur. As he watched the video of his 75-yard interception return for a touchdown—the pivotal play in Hollister’s 22-14 win over Aptos last Friday in a Pacific Coast League Gabilan Division opener—the senior outside linebacker couldn’t help but beam with pride as he watched the reaction of the Hollister sideline going straight-up bonkers. It was a critical win for the Haybalers, who were coming off back-to-back losses to Wilcox and Los Gatos, the latter a demoralizing defeat.
“We came together as a team and knew it was time to bounce back,” Rostran said. “I feel like we have to finish in every area of the game—offense, defense, punt and kick returns. We’re putting up a good amount of yards in getting to the red zone a lot, and now we just have to turn those drives into touchdowns. We finished better against Aptos.”
Coach Bryan Smith said after the Los Gatos contest that the team would find out what it was made of, and for one game at least signs point to Hollister being able to handle adversity. On Rostran’s interception, he was lined up just outside of the defensive end on the right flank. As the ball was snapped, Rostran drifted a couple of steps back, eyeing the quarterback’s eyes all the way.
Once the ball was in the air directed toward a receiver near the sideline, Rostran only had to take a couple of steps to make the game-changing play because he had positioned himself nicely. After making the interception at his own 25-yard line, Rostran cut across the field and once he broke a tackle at the 30, he outran any Aptos player in his vicinity and pretty much had an escort in his teammates to the end zone.
“Honestly, it was just a blur,” said Rostran, who displayed some nifty moves and speed on his way to the end zone. “I was just hoping to not get tackled. I don’t even know what happened until after it happened. … My teammate Marcus told me to scoot out a little bit (pre-snap) because it would be easier to get to my drop. I got there and ended up making the play.”
A day after the victory, Rostran was like any other player who went the distance—sore and aching. However, the giddiness in his voice reflected Rostran’s current state of mind—that he’s making an impact in ways he had never done before. A career running back, Rostran decided to make a position change in the off-season, in the hopes that he could become an impact player. Mission accomplished.
“I knew I would miss playing running back, but I felt like the team needed me more on defense and I felt like I could be more of playmaker at outside linebacker than running back,” Rostran said. “Coach (Ryan) Bartylla always talked to me about playing outside linebacker, and it was a decision I had to make for myself in summer ball.”
Before summer practice started, Rostran attended the San Jose State and San Jose City College camps, and it was at the latter where Rostran played both offense and defense (running back and safety). In 1 on 1s and 7 on 7s, Rostran knew he had comported himself well against strong competition.
“You gain more confidence when you compete against some really good guys and make plays,” he said.
“Adam is a silent leader on our defense,” Smith said. “Playing a new position this year, he has done a tremendous job of being coachable. He has a tremendous work ethic on the football field, in the weight room and improving his academics. His big interception TD return was a huge boost for our team Friday night.”
On several occasions, Aptos left Rostran unblocked. Those were usually plays that went to the other side of the field, and yet Rostran showed his range by making tackles on the opposite side where he lined up. Note to opposing offenses: you might want to block the guy, no matter where the play is going.
“Honestly, I felt like they never really ran my way, so I had to go to the other side and see what I could do,” he said. “I get super hyped come game time, but I have to make sure to play good football and know what I’m doing, and if I don’t, to ask questions.”
Even though the Hollister football players endure tough and physical practices, Rostran said his biggest challenge lies on the mental side of things, not the physical.
“You have to push yourself to get better,” he said. “I feel like it’s far more of a mental thing than physical. It’s definitely more of a mental thing, and you just have to push through and have the mindset that you’re going to get better.”
And that’s exactly what Rostran has done.