For a big guy, Jake Mulgrave is always on the move.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound senior on the Father Judge High School football team is now a starter at guard. Last year he was the team’s left tackle. During his sophomore year, he lined up at right tackle.
He enjoyed playing tackle, and now he’s just has happy, and more importantly, comfortable lining up in the interior of the line.
He’s still doing the thing he loves, putting opponents on skates.
“I started out this season at left tackle, but then they moved me because they saw something they thought would be better,” said Mulgrave, who lives in Fox Chase. “It’s a little different. You pull a lot more and do a lot more down blocking. I think it’s a little more physical, too, but when you’re playing football, you’re always physical, especially when you’re a lineman.
“I like the change. It didn’t matter to me. They said it was a better fit for the team and the team comes first. I’ll play wherever they need me.”
The Crusaders definitely need Mulgrave, because he’s a key part of an offensive line that helped Judge roll through the nonleague portion of its schedule.
Judge defeated Penn Charter 16-14 on Friday night at Ramp Playground to improve to 5-1 on the young season. Business officially picks up this week when the Crusaders begin their Catholic League Red Division schedule when they host Archbishop Wood on Friday. Following the matchup with the Vikings, they see Roman Catholic, La Salle and St. Joe’s Prep to round out the schedule.
Each of those games will be tough, but Mulgrave believes his team is up to the challenge. In fact, after sitting out last year’s Red Division schedule because Judge opted to play in the spring instead of the fall, he’s really looking forward to seeing those familiar foes from when he was a sophomore.
“I love playing in the Catholic League because I think that’s where the best competition is,” Mulgrave said. “We’ve played tough teams, but the Catholic League is the best, I think. Some of the best teams around are in the Catholic League.
“That’s how you get better. I love going up against the best. And I think we’re going to surprise some people. We’re a lot better. We’ve gotten better every day. So we’re going to show everyone how much better we got. We’re going to give it everything we have.”
Mulgrave held his own against those teams when he was a sophomore and he’s even more prepared to face those blue-chip athletes this year. But he’s just as convinced that his teammates are up to the challenge, even the younger guys who never played against that kind of competition.
“We’re 5-1, we think we can do better, we think we should be undefeated, and undefeated sounds a lot better than 5-1,” Mulgrave said. “But our younger guys, you should see them. You should see how much better they are. They get better every game, but they also get better every practice.
“Not only do they get better by working hard, I think they get better by watching. In practice, you do mental reps. You watch. You see what the coaches want. If you see it, it makes it easier when you’re playing. If you stay focused, you can see yourself getting better as a player.”
He credits his coaches with that.
Mulgrave has bounced around on the line, as have many of his teammates. That means they have to learn how to play multiple positions. But Mulgrave said he’s never been unprepared to play on game day.
“They’re really good at coaching you, and I think it helps the whole team,” Mulgrave said. “We aren’t carried by the offense or carried by the defense. We’re a team. We are always all on the same page. That’s because of Coach (Frank) McArdle and his staff. They always have us ready to play.”
Mulgrave is ready for Red Division competition.
He’s also looking forward to life beyond football season.
Next year, he hopes to follow in his brother Liam’s footsteps and play college football. Potential majors are accounting or business.
“My brother took a year off from school, and now he’s at Lycoming and he’s starting as a freshman,” Mulgrave said of his brother and former teammate. “That’s not easy to do. He was out of football. He’s doing really well, in my opinion.”
That’s not the only brother he is proud of.
Mulgrave’s two best friends are Liam, and his 4-year-old brother Devon.
“He’s my world,” Mulgrave said of Devon. “He’s big for his age, so he’ll be a lineman, too, probably. I love hanging out with him. This summer we had a football camp and coach let me bring him one day. He had a great time. I love spending time with him.
“He comes to every game. He’s always yelling and running around. He’s my world, he really is.”
Maybe Devon will come to basketball games this winter, too. There, he’ll see his big brother once again on the team, but unlike the last few years when he was playing, this year he’ll be the manager.
“I’ll do whatever they need, make sure they have everything and give out water,” Mulgrave said. “Just like in football, I’ll do whatever they need. We have a new coach who is bringing in a lot of new guys. I think we can go to the Palestra. We had a great coach last year, and he was a great teacher. I love basketball, I just want to help out.”