After going 0-4 against the tougher teams on its schedule including Wilcox, Valley Christian, Palma and Salinas, Hollister High senior Asher Kearns said the team is ready to finally record a signature victory in its season-finale against Aptos on Nov. 4.
“I know we can beat Aptos and it’s a matter of us coming to play,” he said. “I know we could’ve beaten all those four (aforementioned) teams. Everyone knows what they could’ve done differently and everyone now knows what they have to do. Everyone has been humbled to the point of saying, ‘Am I even that good?’ We finally have got our chemistry going, our offense is picking it up and the secondary is getting there. I firmly believe we’re a team going places.”
If the Haybalers (5-4 overall, 3-2 league) end up beating Aptos—a top-tier team that beat Salinas by three points and lost to Palma by three—it wouldn’t be a surprise if Kearns had a huge impact. The senior defensive end has earned the praise of the Hollister coaching staff by being solid in keeping with his assignments.
“I want to be someone that can be relied on and want to be in my assignment spot and getting it right,” Kearns said. “Usually the play doesn’t go my way, but I’m always there and if there is a cutback, I want to be there to make that play.”
Kearns said he was at his best in the Palma game on Oct. 7, when he recorded his first sack of the season. Most important, Kearns was consistent in what he was supposed to do.
“I played my assignments pretty well, fought off double teams pretty well,” he said. “I played my gap pretty well.”
Even though Kearns has excelled this season, he’s not satisfied with just maintaining the status quo.
“I want to be able to slant a little better into the gaps because if I can slant stronger and get in a guard’s hip pocket, then I can follow them throughout the play,” he said. “I’ve gotten stronger from last year, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be.”
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Kearns has packed on a good amount of muscle since his freshman year but has a goal to be 220 pounds by the end of the school year. He also wants to get more explosive in every facet of the game so he’ll be prepared to play college football.
“I definitely want to be faster,” he said. “I’d say I’m pretty quick, but there is always room for improvement. I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on and I’m going to see it through.”
Kearns credits the Hollister coaching staff for helping him develop into a well-rounded player.
“Coach (Tod) Thatcher and coach Cam (Chris Cameron) are pretty much my biggest mentors,” Kearns said.
Another one of Kearns’ highlights came in the Alisal game on Oct. 14, when he batted a ball up in the air which teammate Jayden Prichett returned 88 yards for a touchdown.
“He ran for a pick-six so that was pretty cool,” Kearns said. “And I got to run with him all the way to the end zone.”
Before earning a spot on the varsity team as a sophomore, Kearns started his high school career on the defensive line with some additional playing time at tight end. Kearns quickly realized he was more of a blocking tight end than a receiving one.
“I’ve got hands of stone,” he said.
Once football season is over, Kearns goes right onto the mat for wrestling. He competed in the 220-pound weight class last season and was disappointed in his fourth- and fifth-place finishes at tournaments. Kearns said he was probably more suited to wrestling in the 195-pound division last year.
“This year I expect to do better because I’ll be in a weight class I belong in and able to do it right,” he said. “I started wrestling in the eighth grade and stuck with it mainly to get better at football. But it’s still a sport I like to play. Whereas football is more of a team sport, with wrestling it’s pretty much up to you. I sort of like that aspect of it being all on you. I like the different techniques of wrestling and I’m a pretty passive wrestler, but I’m learning to switch up styles.”
Although Kearns has enjoyed his time growing up in Hollister, he’s ready to branch out once he graduates in June.
“I’ve been here pretty much my whole life so I’m ready to go,” he said. “Hollister is all I’ve really known, but skyscrapers still amaze me.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected]