SAM FRICK: Growth, commitment has led Kobe Meyer to being the catalyst for undefeated Heritage

Heritage’s Kobe Meyer works to evade a South Adams tackle during a game last season.

We are blessed in this area with some of the quarterbacks we have to watch each Friday – Carroll’s Jimmy Sullivan, South Adams’ Owen Wanner, New Haven’s Donavan Williams and Lakeland’s Brayden Holbrook stand out. We live in an era in northeast Indiana where there is arguably the most pure talent at the position that we’ve ever seen. The talent from the NECC to the NE8 to the ACAC and of course the SAC is tremendous. 

But if you haven’t been discussing the breakout senior season of Heritage’s Kobe Meyer, you’re missing out on one of the area’s best. 

In his career, Meyer has thrown for 2,053 yards, rushed for 1,598 yards and has a combined 39 touchdowns. Last season, Meyer threw for career bests (at the time), 1,097 yards and 5 touchdowns with seven INTs. He also ran 148 times for 841 yards and 15 touchdowns. It was an up-and-down campaign that showed signs of future breakout potential, with five 100-passing yard games, five 100-rushing yard games and a QBR of 60.0.

So far, just four games into his senior season, Meyer’s numbers have skyrocketed to career highs that many outside of that program could not have expected. The senior Meyer has thrown for 653 yards and 12 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions while rushing 83 times for 655 yards (7.9 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns. And that QBR? 110.9. 

Meyer has not thrown for less than 100 yards all season, and you have to go back to October 14 of last year since the last time he threw for less than that. Because of his season and a strong defense led by a deep senior class, the Heritage Patriots are off to their best start since 2006. 

But in the mind of Coach Casey Kolkman, the talent has always been there in Meyer. It just took a lot of trust in his instincts and a lot of hard work for him to become the quarterback he is today. And that trust is what has propelled a special season led by a Class of 2024 that’s unprecedented for a school the size of Heritage. Kolkman has discussed many times of how smooth Meyer is in his release and how his accuracy has improved tremendously. 

Meyer’s growth has validated the conversation in who’s the frontrunner for the ACAC’s player of the year for 2023. Bluffton, Adams Central and South Adams have their respective explosive playmakers, but Meyer has stood out. 

The trust that Kolkman has in his QB1 has allowed the offense to be difficult for defenses to key on due to the fact that Meyer can throw, but also has the athleticism to use his feet to run. The Patriots also have a backfield that can pound the ball whenever it’s not Meyer that has the ball. 

On the season, Meyer has nearly as many combined touchdowns (19) through four games as he did all of last season (20). To tell you how impressive this is, he currently has more combined touchdowns than East Central’s Josh Ringer (17), one of the best players on one of the top teams in the state.

But all that matters for Kolkman’s squad is focusing on the next challenge ahead of them. That challenge is no bigger than big, bad Adams Central on Friday, which is eying not just another ACAC title, but also its third straight trip to the Class 1A state finals.

Kolkman has referred to Adams Central as the ideal football program to coach, a team that’s fundamentally sounded, well-coached, and tackles at an elite level. That mantra has not changed one bit heading into this showdown. 

“We have to slow down the running attack, make them earn every inch gained,” said Kolkman about the Flying Jets. “We must have better intensity and physicality. AC is as good of a team as any in the state. But, to BE the man you have to BEAT the man, and AC has been the man for the past few years.”

That’s been the pressure Adams Central has dealt with all season long. Coach Michael Mosser has challenged his seniors to lead the way when things get tough. It’s a senior class that has went 39-6 in their careers so far. 

After a slow start against Jay County, the Jets scored 28 second-quarter points on their way to a 42-7 road win last week. But Mosser knows a huge challenge awaits, and they know they must key in on Kobe Meyer. 

“He is the best we have seen,” said Mosser on the Heritage quarterback. “We cannot let him control the game. We must play fast and disciplined.  If we don’t, he will run and pass all over us. 

“We must control the line of scrimmage, which of course will be a challenge since they are big up front and athletic. It’s a huge challenge, and we must execute well and tackle well to win.”

So far, the Jets have dispatched of all challengers with Garrett, Eastside, Blackhawk Christian and Jay County. However, in what could be the best year the ACAC has had in football in a decade, Adams Central’s first major challenge awaits them when they host the red-hot Patriots Friday night. 

“We must be disciplined on both sides of the ball,” said Mosser on preparing for Heritage. “We must be aggressive – if we play passive they will dominate us. They are the best team we have seen this year, so we must be ready.”

This will be the 55th meeting all-time between these two long-time ACAC rivals dating back to 1969. Heritage has lost eight straight to the Flying Jets. The Jets hold a 27-26-1 overall edge in the series. 

A win on Friday will change the course of not just the ACAC race, but potentially the confidence of one of these programs. 

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