How Jake Ryan’s leadership elevates Tolton’s football

Father Tolton’s starting quarterback, Jake Ryan, was dropped from the game.

As the second quarter drew to a close, Jake Ryan paced the sideline back and forth repeating a phrase to his teammates: “Bring some energy.”

The quarterback encouraged his teammates on both sides of the ball on the sideline and the offensive unit on the field led by his replacement, Dominik Abadi. However, Ryan was not sidelined due to poor performance.

That’s because the junior had just thrown his fifth touchdown and the Trailblazers were up 56-0 over Bishop DuBourg before halftime.

“It felt good to go out there,” Ryan said. “We felt confident all week…we knew our job and we did our job.”

The “Blazers” offensive unit – when led by Ryan – brought the energy, producing a total of six touchdowns in six offenses. The defensive unit also enjoyed success, allowing zero points the entire game as Father Tolton outscored Bishop DuBourg 63-0 to cap off the comeback festivities.

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“The line played well,” Ryan said. “My receivers are always playmakers and I feel like I can trust all of them to get the ball.”

However, trust in his teammates is nothing new for Ryan. Along with catchers Justus Martin and Cameron Lee, Jake Ryan was part of the baseball team that won Father Tolton a state title for the first time in school history. In 2022, the ‘Blazers broke an 18-3 record, beating Springfield Catholic to win the Class 3 championship and take home a trophy.

“The condition was awesome,” Ryan said. “It was also so surreal. It was just crazy that we were even in the position to be able to do that.

Jake Ryan (3) throws a ball during the Class 3 State Championship game at the US Ballpark in Ozark on Thursday, June 2, 2022. Father Tolton defeated Springfield Catholic 8-4 to win the Class 3 title.

At the end of this season, Ryan now takes on a new role as a starting quarterback in the backfield, leading the offense with every snap.

“It’s pretty cool to be a quarterback starting in high school,” he said. “[It’s] just something surreal that I always dreamed of growing up, of being a quarterback. And do this [with my baseball teammates] is just awesome. It’s like I have my baseball buddies, I have my football buddies and we’re just all friends and all here working together… It’s so much fun to play with my friends.

In five games, the ‘Blazers are 4-1 this season, having beaten opponents 146-38 in their last three games – something they haven’t done since 2014 in a span of three games where they beat their opponents 126-14.

When asked what excites him the most about the current “Blazers” season, Ryan set a lofty goal.

“I want to try and get the best record in Tolton history,” Ryan said. “I believe it’s 10-3.”

In order to record the winningest season since the school’s founding in 2011, the ‘Blazers must win seven more games, including in the playoffs, to earn 11 wins on the year.

As a starting quarterback, Ryan sees his responsibility as a role model and leader, aiming to lead his team in the best way possible.

“Having a position of leadership works in that everyone respects me and I respect them,” he said. “We are all always on the same page. We all have the same values ​​and the same things we should do.

These values ​​are something that Ryan holds close to him, bearing a “What would Jesus do?” bracelet on her wrist, as well as cross-shaped eye paint on both sides of her face.

“I wear these things just to represent my school,” he said. “We are a Catholic school. I’m Catholic personally, I go to church and that’s just representative of who I am.

Ryan also carries this identity on the football field.

“On the pitch, I stay calm,” he said. “We are not begging to fight. We are not a team that causes this, we just keep calm and stay true to our values ​​and what we learn in our theology classes.

Tolton's Jake Ryan (6) throws a pass to Cameron Lee (11) during the Trailblazers 34-29 loss to Putnam County on September 2, 2022.

Something else that Ryan holds close to him is his family. Namely his brother Sam, who late in the second quarter had an interception that led to Jake’s fifth touchdown pass of the night. Sam also scored the only points for either team in the second half on a rushing touchdown.

“It’s pretty cool playing with my brother,” he said. “I saw someone on Twitter call it the Ryan-to-Ryan connection. It’s cool to hear that. Just playing with him is awesome.

The Ryan brothers are also joined by the Lee brothers, James and Cameron. Together, the pair of receivers accounted for six of the team’s eight touchdowns. James caught one and returned consecutive punts for two more, while Cameron caught two and rushed for another.

“Two sets of brothers on a team is something unheard of,” Ryan said. “That’s pretty cool to do.”

Baseball teammates turned football teammates, but still brothers – Jake, Sam, James and Cameron join the rest of Father Tolton’s varsity team in a bid to break the school record for most wins in a single season . Up next for the ‘Blazers is a winless Doniphan High School, as the team hits the road to Doniphan for its sixth game of the year.

This will be another chance for him to develop his leadership skills.

“It’s important to keep our guys on the sidelines,” Ryan said. “It’s so fun to watch [junior varsity] to be able to get in the game and get playing time. So it’s just a matter of keeping everyone up and in the game on the sidelines to make sure we’re all locked in.

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