Male Athlete of the Week: Holsinger breaks out on football field for Generals

Cole Holsinger

QUICKSBURG – Cole Holsinger hadn’t donned football pads since around his eighth-grade year, but when Jay Goode was hired as Stonewall Jackson High School’s new football coach last spring, Holsinger was curious to see the new direction the Generals’ struggling program was heading.

Holsinger, a junior at Stonewall, opted to attend a few workouts this past summer and eventually settled on playing high school football for the first time this fall.

Goode recalled his first interactions with Holsinger before the Generals’ practice Monday afternoon.

“He came a couple times in the summer and everything but I didn’t really know who he was. I just heard the name and kids said, ‘Nah, he’s not gonna play,'” Goode said. “And I guess he came out the first equipment day and said he’d give it a try. It took me a while to kind of know who he was and kind of get a good look at him and everything. I’m glad he’s out.”

Holsinger, who plays running back and defensive back for the Generals, showed just how valuable he could be to Stonewall Jackson’s football team last week. After being bottled up in the Generals’ first three games of the season, Holsinger erupted for 190 yards of offense and two touchdowns against Page County, a game in which he averaged 27.1 yards per touch, and also tallied an interception in the Generals’ 51-24 rout.

For his accomplishments, Holsinger has been named The Northern Virginia Daily’s Male Athlete of the Week for Sept. 20-26.

“I was just seeing the field well. Everything was working for me,” said Holsinger, who rushed for 147 yards and two scores on just six carries. “The line blocked and just holes were opening up, and I was able to get through.”

Arguably Holsinger’s most influential play against Page County came on Stonewall’s second drive of the game. With the Generals trailing 6-0 after the Panthers returned the game’s opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, Holsinger gave his team a lead it would hold for the rest of the game with a 67-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left in the first quarter.

On the play, Holsinger, lined up on the left side of the offensive formation as a wingback, went in motion to the right before the snap and secured the handoff from quarterback Nathan Miller. Holsinger then swept outside the tackle before cutting up field and racing untouched to the end zone for his first career touchdown.

“I think that kind of turned things around there,” Goode said. “Any time a team scores on the opening kickoff you have a tendency to get down, at least for a little bit. When he got that run there I think that really generated things. Everybody got excited and all.”

But Holsinger was far from done. Two Stonewall drives later, the junior turned a third-and-17 pass into the flat into a 43-yard gain as he wiggled out of a tackle at the Generals 30, shook another tackle at the 35 and juked a defender near midfield before finally being brought down at the Page County 31. The Generals eventually scored on the drive.

Holsinger repeatedly fought out of tackles throughout the game, a welcome sight for Goode.

“That’s what I tell these running backs there. I’ve been trying to get them to keep their feet moving and all that. That’s what he did,” Goode said. “… Earlier in the year there when they got contact they would just stop and now they’re kind of getting an idea you’ve got to keep your feet moving and everything like that, and don’t give up.”

Holsinger’s second touchdown came early in the second quarter when he broke off a 38-yard scoring run to give Stonewall a 25-6 lead. The Generals ended the game with 527 yards rushing and eight touchdown runs, a performance Holsinger said should build confidence for the Generals’ offense.

“You could’ve drove anything through that hole a couple of times,” Holsinger said of the blocking of Stonewall’s offensive line. “… We have a big line so when they do their job holes are gonna open up.”

Defensively, Holsinger notched his first career interception on a sliding grab early in the second quarter to set up his second touchdown run, and he also broke up a pass near the end zone on the final play before halftime with Page County looking to cut into a 38-18 deficit.

Holsinger said learning the technique to play defensive back has been one of the toughest challenges in his return to the football field.

“Just trying to do drop steps and everything, just trying to make sure you can cover the guy, don’t want to get behind him and all that,” he said.

Goode said in addition to Holsinger’s big-play ability on the field, he’s emerged as a leader, and Goode added that he’s already got his eye on potentially naming Holsinger a team captain next season.

Holsinger said he didn’t necessarily anticipate making such an immediate impact in his return to football.

“Just tried to work hard,” Holsinger said. “You don’t expect it, you just want to work hard and hopefully you’re in this position.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com