Senior quarterback Jacob Hommes gained a lot more than 25 pounds of muscle in the offseason as one of the Northwest Conference’s most improved athletes.
He also gained respect.
So much respect, in fact, that his Lynden teammates voted to make the 6-foot, 195-pound rushing and passing threat one of the team’s four captains in his first full varsity season.
“Jacob is a very pleasant surprise,” Lions coach Curt Kramme said. “He’s not even close to being the same kid he was as a junior. We weren’t expecting this (improvement), and we’re pleased as punch. Jacob really worked hard in the weight room, and that was reflected when the kids voted him a captain.”
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Kramme, in his 26th season, has had plenty of seniors improve enough in his talent-packed program to earn extensive playing time after serving in reserve and/or junior varsity roles as underclassmen.
But not many late-bloomers have been quarterback – especially one who is on pace to finish with more than 1,000 yards rushing and passing.
1,227 Combined rushing and passing yards compiled by Lynden quarterback Jacob Hommes through the first five weeks of 2016
When Lynden became a Class 2A school 11 years ago, Kramme switched from the classic I formation to the spread offense, which means he often has only one man in the backfield. Lynden quarterbacks, thus, run more often than those at most schools, and Hommes is the latest to fit that mold, following in the footsteps of players such as Chris Bolt, Josh Kraght and Sterling Somers.
Halfway through the regular season, Hommes has rushed for 597 yards on 87 carries with eight touchdowns, which ranks third in Whatcom County, and has completed 40 of 80 passes for 630 yards (fifth in the county) and nine scores for the Lions (4-1, 3-0 2A NWC), who face Blaine on Friday night at Rollie DeKoster Field.
Perhaps Hommes’ most intriguing statistic, though, is that he has had only one interception, and that came in Lynden’s opener.
So what motivated the affable Hommes to work harder than ever?
I’ll recommend to everyone that he should start working hard right away in high school.
Lynden senior Jacob Hommes
“I knew I could have worked harder (in my first three years in the program),” he said, “and our lack of success last season was a big motivator for me.”
Lynden went 6-4, including a 21-17 loss to Sedro-Woolley in the district playoffs, snapping Lynden’s streak of nine straight trips to the state playoffs.
Hommes found more motivation when he did not get off the bench in that loss.
“I also knew there would be tough competition at quarterback (with talented sophomore James Marsh),” Hommes said, “and the only time I got to play a lot on the varsity last year, was our third game when Sterling Somers was hurt in the second quarter. It didn’t go well. We lost to Squalicum (27-0) and got shut out at home for the first time in 10 years. That was an eye-opener for me.”
Kramme said all aspects of Hommes’ game have improved greatly, though he remains best as a runner.
17 Lynden touchdowns Jacob Hommes has either run or passed for in 2016.
“He’s no longer a timid runner,” Kramme said. “He can drop his pads and run over people now. He’s really become a physical runner.”
Hommes said his blocking support and pass protection “have both been great.” Lynden’s primary running back, bruising senior Brody Weinheimer, and interior linemen Jacob Kettles, Tanner Steele, Edward Andrews, Brennan Roebuck and Trey LaBounty have provided consistent support.
Kramme said Hommes and Marsh looked so sharp in preseason camp, he was going to use them on alternate drives for the first two games. Marsh was injured in the jamboree, and Hommes knew the quarterback responsibilities were his – at least until Marsh returned last week.
“I didn’t know how long James would be out,” Hommes said. “I did feel a little pressure, but I looked at how hard all of us had worked, and I felt it would be fine, no matter what happened.”
Once Hommes’ football playing days are over – he said he’s become interested in college possibilities – he would like to become a strength and conditioning coordinator after majoring in exercise science. His enthusiasm for the weight room has made him realize how much he can help younger athletes fulfill their potential.
“I wish I had more years left to play Lynden football,” he said, “but I’ll recommend to everyone that he should start working hard right away in high school.”