By Brad Fauber
STRASBURG -- Strasburg lost nearly all of its offensive production from last year to graduation, and as the Rams head into the 2013 high school football season, it is as important as ever for Strasburg to get the ball into the hands of its playmakers.
With little varsity experience returning for the Rams at many of the skill positions on offense, senior Jonathan Kloosterman -- the team's returning offensive leader with 299 receiving yards and five touchdowns last season as a tight end -- figures to have a more prominent role in the Rams' pro-I offense this season.
"We're going to try to get a lot out of him," Rams coach Mark Roller said before practice on Aug. 12. "We're going to move him around on offense and move him around on defense. We're going to try to get the ball to Jonathan as much as we can."
Strasburg's offense compiled nearly 3,700 yards rushing in 12 games last season, but the Rams lost their top four leading rushers to graduation, including all-state running back Rakwon White, who ran for 2,467 yards and 27 touchdowns a year ago.
Senior Michael Conley and junior Colton Funk are in line to fill the void at running back, but neither has seen much action at the varsity level.
Kloosterman said he's eager to be the go-to guy in the offense this season, especially early on as Conley and Funk get settled into their roles.
"I'm hoping that I'm a big part of [the offense]. I want the ball in my hands, just to take some of the load off the running backs," Kloosterman said. "The running backs we have are good, but they don't have much game experience. So until they start getting that experience we need to share the load."
Kloosterman has made it no secret that he wants to be a prominent figure in Strasburg's offense during his final high school season, and he has personally approached Roller about playing multiple roles for the Rams this year.
"I know he's eager to have the ball in his hands. He's already asked me to play quarterback some, play in the wildcat, but he's not that type of athlete yet," Roller said.
Is there a chance Kloosterman lines up in the backfield to get some carries this season?
"It's possible, I won't rule it out," Roller said. "It depends on how those guys do back there, especially at our fullback position because we've got some new guys there. We're just going to try to utilize him as best we can."
Even if Kloosterman doesn't see significant playing time in the backfield, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound senior should still be a top receiving target for first-year quarterback Mark Smoot. Kloosterman's 17 catches last season led all Strasburg receivers.
Kloosterman's role with the Rams this season won't be limited to the offensive side of the ball, however. In fact, his biggest contribution last season came on defense, where he ended up being named Bull Run District Defensive Player of the Year and was a first team all-Group A, Division 2 selection at defensive end.
Kloosterman led Strasburg with 96 tackles (66 solo) last season and also added two sacks for the Rams.
Much like his role on offense, Kloosterman will be moved around to different positions on defense this season, and he figures to see a bulk of his playing time at middle linebacker.
"It will help me get more in the open field," Kloosterman said of the move. "I'm one-sided whenever I'm playing defensive end, so now I can move around more and that will really help out, I think."
Kloosterman said he played some linebacker in JV, but he is still getting used to the challenge of playing in the middle of the Rams' 4-4 defense at the varsity level. He said the biggest challenge has been learning all of the defensive plays, as he will be required to call signals to his teammates on the field.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it. I've still got to get down all the play calling and stuff because when I was at defensive end I didn't have to memorize all that, I just do what I do," Kloosterman said. "Now I'm going to have to call out the plays so I'm still working on getting that stuff down."
As far as personal goals, Kloosterman doesn't really have any as he is simply focused on helping the team win, and he said he isn't concerned with trying to replicate his all-state selection again this season.
"I try not to think about that. That was last season and this is a new season," Kloosterman said. "It's all new for me -- I'm at a new position, so I'm not really looking back to last year at all."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org