Two months ago, Greg Bolt was a quarterback at Columbia City eager to begin his high school career on the freshman team.
This week, he is having to prepare for dealing with the best defensive player in the Northeast 8 in Leo’s Jayden Elwood on Friday.
Such has been the transformation for Bolt, who has gone from prep rookie to a timeshare at QB with Max Bedwell to start the season to now being the unquestioned No. 1 at the position.
Looking to infuse some consistency in his offense, Columbia City coach Brett Fox ditched the two-quarterback system heading into the Week 6 game against New Haven.
It hasn’t been an easy process before or since for both player and coach.
“I expected to be playing with the freshman team and learning all the new plays,” Bolt said. “But no, I went right in to helping the varsity team out.”
Fox and the Columbia City coaching staff did not expect to be thrusting a ninth-grader into the starting role either. But at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds with a skill set to match his stature, it was tough to keep Bolt off the field.
Bolt and Bedwell began the season by rotating series. But when the Eagles fell behind 21-0 to DeKalb in Week 5, it was Bolt that made the plays to bring Columbia City back before falling 28-21.
“It is something we put a lot of thought into,” Fox said. “In order to put Greg in, you have to take out a kid who has kind of successful for us in Max.
“We look at it as, ‘Hey, what allows us to get to our maximum potential?’”
The answer has been Bolt. In his first prep start two weeks ago against New Haven, he threw for 113 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 21-7 victory. He helped the Eagles stay in contention with East Noble last week, throwing for 126 yards and a touchdown in a 14-point defeat.
What does Bolt bring in particular to the position?
“He allows us to do a lot of things,” Fox said. “His very first throw in high school we were lined up on the left and went trips right all verticals. He threw it all the way to the right outside the numbers for a 60-yard completion. The ball was in the air a good 50 yards.
“That is something that not too many kids can do as a freshman.”
Perhaps the toughest aspect of being a starting quarterback at such a young age is commanding the respect of the upperclassmen you are asking to lead. Thankfully, Bolt has had plenty of help in that regard. Each player in the huddle seems to have a word of advice or a nod of encouragement for the freshman.
“The linemen especially encourage me a lot,” Bolt said. “The receivers are always giving me extra tips about safeties and what to look for.”
Bolt also has plenty of help around him. Junior Michael Sievers is already one of the top 10 receivers in Columbia City history in terms of receptions. He has 29 catches for 406 yards and five scores this year. Running back Jacob Wigent has rushed for over 600 yards and has cracked the top 10 in rushing yardage all-time with the program.
“We tell him to get the ball to those guys and let them make plays,” said Fox, whose team faces Leo at home on Friday in a battle of 4-3 teams. “I tell him, ‘We aren’t asking you to be Superman, just be Greg Bolt.’”
The freshman is doing just that, growing more comfortable one game at a time.
“It is a lot different than middle school football,” Bolt said. “But it’s a lot more fun.”