Senior Adams mentored four players while learning a new position his senior year at Father Judge.
Learning a new position is tough.
Learning a new position while mentoring four other players is even harder.
That’s exactly the role Dan Adams found himself in this year, and he loved every minute of it.
Adams is a senior offensive lineman on the Father Judge High School football team. Last year, he lined up at guard, but thanks to the graduation of the other four starters, he found himself in the huddle with four new offensive linemen. Two are sophomores, another was a guy who never played a varsity snap.
But Adams himself was in transition, moving from guard to tackle. The switch was a challenge, but he was just as busy making sure the other guys knew their role.
“I knew it was going to take some time because it’s tough coming in and playing varsity,” Adams said. “I did it, so I know it’s tough. I just wanted them to get as comfortable as possible and be ready.
“The biggest thing I did was tell the scout team to come hard at practice. That’s how I got ready. If guys don’t practice hard, then when the games start, it’s a whole new thing. I wanted them to be ready for Ridley, and then get better every game.”
Adams saw a lot of improvement in his team. The trouble was, every time the Crusaders took the field, they were playing against a strong squad.
Learning on the fly is always tough, but when your schedule consists of tilts against St. Joe’s Prep, Archbishop Wood and La Salle, that’s quite a daunting task.
Prep and Wood are nationally ranked among Catholic League schools. La Salle was as well, prior to losing to the Hawks and the Vikings. And all three are expected to contend for a state championship this year. Last year, Prep and Wood won state crowns.
“I love playing those teams because it makes you play better because you know they’re great teams,” said Adams, who grew up playing football at Calvary. “But it’s hard to get ready for those types of teams. I’m really proud of the way the line played. Those are my guys and they really went out and gave it everything they had.”
Judge’s Catholic League schedule came to an end on Friday night when it fell to Prep, 41–7, in the first round of the Catholic League AAAAAA playoffs at Widener University. The highlighter for the Crusaders was receiver Katob Joseph, who went for 110 yards, including a touchdown pass from Shane Dooley.
The Crusaders still have a game against Abraham Lincoln on Thanksgiving before they turn in their pads for the year. It wasn’t exactly the season Adams wanted. He would have preferred a championship, but he leaves the young squad in good position for next year.
And his guys will be leading the way.
“I’m so proud of the way the offensive line played, because even when they made a mistake or didn’t play well, they admitted it and tried to get better,” Adams said. “Shane Dooley is a tough quarterback, he would get hit and he’d always bounce right up. But when we gave up sacks, I’d get everyone together and see what we could do to not make it happen again.
“If you look at the way we played in the beginning of the year and then watched the way we played, even against Prep, I think we came such a long way. We are so much better now than we were when camp started.”
Adams believes the linemen’s hard work had a lot to do with the improvement, but he also believes his coaches had a lot to do with it.
He said head coach Mike McKay was very supportive of the squad, and he also believes offensive line coach Mark Zataveski helped the team, both physically and mentally.
“He was a great lineman himself, he played at Notre Dame and was a professional, so he knows everything there is,” Adams said. “When things aren’t going right, he gets out the whiteboard and shows us what we’re doing wrong. And he’s very emotional, he gets us fired up. I love that about him, I love the way he coaches.”
Adams hopes he finds a college coach who has the same qualities as Zataveski.
He’s unsure where he’ll play, but he’s starting to talk to a few Division III schools.
No matter where he ends up, the 6-foot-2, 260-pounder is prepared to play any offensive line position thanks to the versatility he showed during his days as a Crusader.
“I was really lucky because this summer I worked out a lot with Earl Volz, and he showed me a lot of things,” Adams said of the 2017 Judge grad who is now playing offensive line at Kutztown University. “He worked with me a lot on my footwork. It’s a lot different playing tackle instead of guard. You’re going against the fast defensive ends instead of slower tackles. It was a lot of fun going against (Archbishop Wood’s) Kyle Pitts. He’s going to Florida, and next year I’ll be able to say I played against him, I tried to block him.”
How to block Division I prospects isn’t the only advice Volz gave his younger friend.
“He called me before the Prep game and told me to give it everything I have because I’m going to miss it,” he said.
“And I know I will. He’s playing at Kutztown and he misses it. Playing at Judge is great. I’m glad we still have the Lincoln game. That’s a great game. This has been a great year for us, even if we didn’t win as much as we wanted to.” ••