Jacob Kaepernick is not ready to specialize yet. He loves football too much.
In fact, Sehome’s junior quarterback contends that athletes capable of doing so should play at least two sports.
“I really recommend that,” said Kaepernick, a highly rated pitching prospect who plans to play baseball in college. “I believe it’s good playing two sports. I never feel burned out.”
“I think football is awesome,” the strong-armed 6-foot-1, 196-pound athlete said. “I love playing with my teammates at Sehome.”
The affection is obviously mutual, as he helped Sehome to a 7-4 record last year.
“Jacob is like a coach on the field,” said third-year head coach Kevin Beason, who admires Kaepernick’s willingness to learn and his competitive spirit.
“He has a very strong understanding of the game,” Beason said. “He’s put on 20 pounds and it shows. I’m just glad he’s on our side.”
Kaepernick pilots Sehome to state
Kaepernick played so well last year while leading the Mariners to the state Class 2A playoffs — in Sehome’s first league title season since 2001 — that it was hard to believe how inexperienced he was.
“As as freshman, we didn’t have a junior varsity team, and I was the varsity backup, so I played only two quarters in six “C” team games, in order to be eligible to play in the varsity games if needed,” said Kaepernick, who played tight as a seventh and eighth grader.
“Football has made my arm a lot stronger. I got one (emergency) start on the varsity as a freshman and threw four interceptions in our loss to Bellingham,” he said. “But I did throw a touchdown pass to Melloy Nelson.”
This season, Kaepernick has only one interception through the first two weeks while throwing a combined 71 passes in a 14-13 overtime win over Nooksack Valley and a 28-10 loss to unbeaten Mount Baker.
While throwing for 25 touchdowns and more than 2,500 yards as a sophomore, Kaepernick averaged less than one interception per game.
“I didn’t learn that I was in line to be the starting quarterback until near the end of my freshman year,” said Kaepernick, who moved up quicker than he expected when the prospective starter moved away.
Kaepernick said he didn’t feel as much pressure as some young quarterbacks might have in such a situation. He said he knew he had three outstanding senior receiving prospects and one of Whatcom County’s best seniors in running back Dylan Roberts.
Now the majority of his teammates are less experienced than last year’s lineup, but Kaepernick says he’s just as enthusiastic.
“I really like working with these guys and with our coaches,” he said. “Coach Beason is great to play for. He knows how to get the most out of his players and he really understands kids.”
‘Football has taught me how to be a leader’
Kaepernick said he also enjoys the support and enthusiasm of the student body.
Since the 2001 league title season, Sehome’s fans had not had all that many opportunities to celebrate. Sehome’s appearance at state last year was the first for the Mariners since 2013.
“I learned a lot about leadership from the many seniors we had last season,” he said. “Football has taught me how to be a leader. I do feel I’m a better leader now.”
Kaepernick is delighted to find himself teaming with two much-improved returning receivers — junior Tim Malo and senior Nelson, —along with a capable, tough returning running back, senior Dawson Smith. The only returning starter on the offensive line is center Quentin Icay, one of only nine seniors on the roster.
“It’s exciting see the young guys improve,“ Kaepernick said. “We did many hours of summer work. We would go over to use the turf field at Western … It’s great to see how everyone is super positive.”
The Mariners — who claimed a share of the Lake Division title in the Northwest Conference last season — hope to have more to celebrate Saturday after a 1 p.m. non-conference game against Centralia at Civic Stadium.
▪ Marysville-Pilchuck vs. Squalicum at Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.
▪ Ferndale at Marysville-Getchell, 7 p.m.
▪ Blaine at Lynden Christian, 7 p.m.
▪ Steilacoom at Lynden, 7 p.m.
▪ King’s at Nooksack Valley, 7 p.m.
▪ Mount Baker vs. Leavenworth Cascade at Peshastin-Dryden Stadium, 7 p.m.
▪ Bellingham at Sammamish, 7 p.m.
▪ Muckleshoot at Lummi, 7 p.m.
▪ Sehome vs. Centralia at Civic Stadium, 1 p.m.
▪ Amador (Calif.) at Meridian, 5 p.m.