By Tommy Keeler Jr. -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- It was a busy summer for Trae Tinsman. The James Wood senior spent most of it traveling from one football camp to another, but that's the life of a recruit trying to gain more attention from college programs.
"It was a good experience," Tinsman said. "It helped me a lot."
Tinsman was invited to and attended camps at UMass, Richmond, Villanova and Tennessee, among others.
The 6-foot-4 quarterback has improved with each year, which may be a scary thought for the rest of the Northwestern District this season.
James Wood coach Mike Bolin said Tinsman's footwork is better and his release is quicker.
Tinsman has also finally learned how to use height to his advantage.
"He's playing taller," Bolin said. "He used to slouch when he threw, now he's playing like he should be playing."
When Tinsman first started playing football, he was a center because he wasn't as tall. Tinsman said the experience helped him understand how important offensive linemen are.
"You have to make friends with the lineman so you know they'll protect you," Tinsman said. "I have a lot of respect for them and what they do."
This is Tinsman's third year starting for the Colonels. As a sophomore, Tinsman threw for 854 yards, but tossed only 84 passes in a run-oriented offense. As a junior his yards (1,183), completions (66) and attempts (152) all jumped markedly.
Tinsman admits he would like to throw the ball even more this season, but mostly he just wants to win.
Winning has been something new for the Colonels, and James Wood struggled to win games until Walter Barr took over the program. During Tinsman's freshman season, James Wood produced a 7-3 record, but missed the playoffs.
Two years ago, the Colonels made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Last year they duplicated the feat, but added a victory over rival Sherando for the first time since 1993.
"We made history," Tinsman said of the game. "They had a great team. It was great game, and we came out on the upper end."
The win also gave Tinsman bragging rights over one of his friends -- Sherando grad and current University of Virginia quarterback Ross Metheny.
Tinsman said he and Metheny have known each other since the fourth grade when they played on the same youth football team.
"I've always looked up to him," Tinsman said. "We've been great friends. We're friends off the field, but on the field when you're playing against each other, you're never friends -- you're enemies."
The Colonels had a solid season last year, finishing with an 8-3 record, losing to Potomac Falls in the Region II, Division 4 semifinals. James Wood played against Handley in the final game of the regular season in what was basically the district championship. Unfortunately for the Colonels, they came up short in a 17-10 loss. Tinsman had a pass intercepted by Handley's Geremi Long at the Handley 3-yard line in the closing seconds to end the Colonels' chances.
The loss is still in the back of the mind of Tinsman and his teammates.
"I think last year's loss will pump us up more this season," Tinsman said. "I still have dreams about that game. We want to beat Handley and we want that district title this year."
Tinsman has a bright future ahead of him at the next level, and said his top two college choices right now are UMass and Villanova. Bolin is just glad that his star QB is around for one more season.
"As a coach, he's the type of player you want to have," Bolin said. "He's a hard worker. He's smart. He's a team leader. He takes control on the field. I feel lucky as a coach to have Trae on the team."