Seth Adrian was elevated to the varsity team in the late stages of his freshman season. He never looked back.
Adrian, a three-year starter at linebacker, finished his career with 213.5 tackles for Davenport Assumption. He was named the Class 3A District 4 defensive player of the year and second team all-state by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association this season.
The 6-foot and 220-pounder was among the top 10 in 3A in tackles with 84.5 stops. He had 16.5 tackles (10 solo) in the season finale against state-ranked North Scott.
"I told myself the night before the North Scott game, this could be my last game and I've got to leave it all on the field," Adrian recalled. "I went out there and played my butt off on every single play. We didn't get the result we wanted in that game, but I was pleased how I left nothing out there."
After a sub-.500 season in Adrian's junior year, Assumption was 5-4 this past season. Its four losses came to playoff teams -- Cedar Rapids Xavier, Solon, Iowa City Liberty and North Scott -- with a combined record of 36-8.
Led by Adrian, the Knights' defense yielded just 12.3 points per game.
"The most satisfying thing was improving off what we did last year," Adrian said. "Last year was a tough year for me, a season I've never quite had in football. It was improving on the talent level of our team and proving how much we could change in a year."
'I couldn't come off the field'
In the second game of the season at Dubuque Wahlert, Adrian injured his knee on a contact play. It turned out he had a lateral meniscus tear, but Adrian refused to quit playing despite swelling in his knee throughout the remainder of the season.
"I couldn't leave these guys out here," Adrian said. "I couldn't come off the field. I had to stay in. I had to lead the team."
Adrian, in fact, missed just one practice and no games over the final seven weeks. He had surgery after the season and is expected to be back in December for wrestling.
As he came up through the Rising Knights program, Adrian was on the defensive line. By middle school, he transitioned to linebacker.
It became a natural fit for him. He had mentors like former teammates Antonio Santillan, Donaven Juarez and Chris Bridges.
"You don't get the type of hits a linebacker can receive or it can give at other positions," Adrian said. "I love that physicality.
"Early on in my career, my IQ wasn't very high and I kind of played slow. After watching those guys, I learned to play fast and it accelerated my play on the field."
On the horizon
Adrian will wrestle at 220 pounds for the Knights this winter followed by his senior baseball season.
Beyond that, his plans are undetermined. Grand View University has extended an offer for football.
"I want to play college football, a dream since I was a little kid," Adrian said. "I understand I'm not going to go in as this high recruit, but I feel I have the work ethic like Jake Gervase to go in some place and grind it out until I get on the field.
"I'm going to wait until after the college (football) season and see what goes on then. I'm willing to play the waiting game and see if anything comes late."
Besides his work ethic, Adrian believes his leadership skills can benefit a college program.
"Some guys don't like to take the role of a leader or don't like to talk," he said. "I believe I can come in and set an example for everyone on how they should practice or work out in the weight room."
-- Matt Coss