Making contact

Archbishop Spalding's Jake Trantin loves the physicality of football, but keeping his head in the game has made the senior a standout


November 01, 2006|By Alejandro Danois | Alejandro Danois,Special to the Sun

Archbishop Spalding senior fullback-linebacker Jake Trantin is the offensive and defensive force behind the Cavaliers' undefeated season.

A few years ago, however, Trantin had never even worn a set of football pads. He played hockey since the age of 8 and was enthralled by the speed and physical nature of that sport.

As a sophomore at Spalding, he decided to give football a try. Playing linebacker on the undefeated junior varsity team that season, Trantin found that football was somewhat similar to the game he played on ice. Both sports required speed, finesse and technique. And there was one other similarity that captured Trantin's attention.

"I fell in love with football because you get to run all over and make contact on every play," Trantin said.

Last year, in his first varsity season, Trantin made the All-County first team on defense. The Cavaliers went 10-1, winning the school's first football championship, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference crown.

Although he didn't have much football experience, the coaching staff noticed that he applied himself with a desire to learn the fundamentals of the game.

On game days, he attacked opposing ball carriers with the exact techniques that were being taught in practice sessions.

"The kid loved to hit people, was aggressive in getting to the ball and was laying clean shots on people all the time," Spalding head coach Mike Whittles said. "Jake's got a nose for the ball and does a great job attacking the line of scrimmage. He understands the importance of every practice drill and applies the drills to his game play."

In Spalding's 8-0 victory against St. Mary's last season, Trantin amassed 22 tackles, contributing to a defensive effort that held the Saints shy of 100 total yards.

Toward the end of the season, because of a teammate's injury, Trantin showed the coaching staff in practice what he was capable of as a ball carrier.

"We were really looking forward to him running the football this year," Whittles said.

During Spalding's 42-0 victory over St. Paul's this season, it was plain to see why.

Trantin, 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, ran around and through the Crusaders defense for 150 yards and two touchdowns. On one play, he took a handoff straight up the middle and burst through the pursuing defense for a 64-yard touchdown. When he wasn't breaking off long runs, he was chewing up yards in bulk with defenders draped around him.

His 4.6-second speed in the 40-yard dash was evident on the defensive side of the football as well. He closed in on the opposing running backs with uncanny efficiency for losses totaling minus-10 yards. In the third quarter, he grabbed a fumble on one hop and sprinted 65 yards for another score.

"On offense, Jake has good instincts, runs hard and is surprisingly quick," Whittles said. "He has a nose for the ball on defense, can accelerate and he gives it everything he's got, in practice and in the games."

Trantin's impact has been felt on special teams, too. Against John Carroll earlier this season, he took the second-half kickoff and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown.

A solid student, Trantin holds a B average and scored 1,470 on the SAT. He is hoping to become the first player from Spalding to play big-time college football. Maryland, Delaware, Holy Cross and Columbia have expressed interest.

For now, Trantin is determined to help Spalding to an undefeated season and another championship, although he is adamant about refusing to take credit for the team's success.

"We have a great offensive line who makes holes on every play, and all we have to do is run through them," said Trantin. "The coaches know what they're doing and they prepare an excellent game plan every week."

Said Whittles: "Jake is very humble. ... He's the type of player that makes us look good as coaches."

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