Homestead football coach Chad Zolman uses one phrase to describe senior Jake Archbold: “ultimate team guy.”
During his final season leading the Spartans, Archbold has been given the freedom to be just that.
As a junior, Archbold split time at quarterback with then-sophomore Luke Goode. Many schools in the area were fiddling around with using two quarterbacks, but the Spartans went all in. Archbold, known as the better mover and rusher, and Goode, the better pure arm, went back and forth from series to series. The plan was to never let defenses get into a flow. It worked often, but it also kept the Spartans out of an offensive flow in some of the more important moments of the season, keeping them titleless.
“It was a good thing that both of us could play, but looking at it from an outside perspective I think it hurt the team just because we could never really get a rhythm going,” Archbold says. “I didn’t personally want to do that again because I wanted to on the field as much as possible because I wanted to help the team out.”
Archbold did end up throwing for 967 yards, completing 51 percent of his attempts. He was also the team’s second-leading rusher with 678 yards and seven touchdowns.
During the winter, he visited with Zolman and discussed possibilities for the 2019 season. Archbold personally didn’t like the idea of splitting time at quarterback and spending much of the game on the sidelines. Voted in his junior year (and senior year) as a team captain, Archbold found it difficult to lead and provide for the team under the system that was in place.
Zolman and his staff agreed. After looking through what kind of positions the program wanted to fill from graduation, Zolman knew it would make the team better if Archbold was in different spots. In 2019, he barely leaves the field.
“I think we probably underutilized him last year,” Zolman says. “He came to us and, ultimate team guy, just said ‘I want to be on the field, coach. I want to play.’ He was willing and his willingness to do that has definitely made us a better football team.”
That has led to a primary move to safety for his senior season, while still contributing offensively and as a returner. Archbold earned his varsity stripes as a sophomore playing safety so the primary move isn’t anything new for him. Archbold says that film of him playing safety as a sophomore has been a primary recruiting focus on his athlete highlight film.
“Some of them were looking at my sophomore film and saying they would like having a quarterback guy that can go back and play safety because they understand what the offensive schemes are,” Archbold said.
Archbold’s ability to become the program’s utility player as a senior has been developed even since his middle school days at Woodside. Archbold came up in a good class and immediately stood out both on the football field and the basketball court. While being the Spartans top defender in basketball before choosing not to play his junior season, Archbold was building his body in the weight room. Working to improve himself athletically and mentally, he has been able to fulfill expectations that Zolman and others had in him since before he even walked in the doors at Homestead.
It has also opened the doors for college. With offers from Saginaw Valley, Northwood, Saint Francis and Valparaiso, there are plenty of different roles he could provide on the college level. Zolman says he sees potential for Archbold to play linebacker, safety, quarterback and more in college; the senior even works as a kick and punt returner now.
Archbold said that after his sophomore year is when he really fell in love with football and decided that is where he wanted to play his college ball, also leading him to give up basketball.
“He is a utility man and whoever decides to take him is going to get a guy who can do an awful lot of things for them. There isn’t much he can’t do on a football field,” Zolman said.
Archbold’s teammates clearly see him as a do-it-all guy too. The team has voted him as a captain the last two seasons, but he sees that role as more than just a title. Zolman says that Archbold is the ultimate encourager, but also willing to have confrontational conversations when needed and has become respected among his teammates because of his work ethic and ability to develop relationships.
“I’m a big vocal guy. I’ve learned from the previous leaders that you can’t really care what people think about you so I just go out there and I be myself,” Archbold says. “And I am always trying to lead by example, always trying to work hard in drills. When I was a freshman, there are always the juniors and seniors that you try to look up to so once I made the transition to the varsity field, that is something I really took from them.”
Moving the defense has allowed Archbold to lead differently he says. Playing alongside lifetime friends and teammates like Cam Rogers, Nik Martin and Ryan Burton has helped him feel like that side of the football has more of a family aspect with all 11 guys playing as one with the same objective.
He also hopes that senior class could be the one to lead Homestead to their first-ever Summit Athletic Conference title and the chance to parade the Victory Bell into the postseason. Zolman says that his senior group have kept the idea of the bell at the forefront knowing that if you can win the SAC, you have to consider yourself playoff ready.
“I have gotten to experience each senior class and how they led. So it has been great to take some of those things with our senior class,” Archbold says. “Something is just different about this senior class, the way we bond. This is the closest this team has ever been, even outside of football.”