Juniors emerge as leaders on football team

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By Jack Harvey

Jason Santana and Jalen Combs are two of the key players on Lane’s football team and a lot of the team’s success will hinge on the performances of the two Juniors. Combs, Div. 568, is the first junior to be named a captain of the Lane football team in the last ten years according to coaches.

Combs was also named one of the top five players in the Illini Red Bird, Lane’s conference, by the Sun Times.

Santana is the starting quarterback, after working hard to recover from a broken ankle suffered last season. Santana played defense last year and broke his ankle during a basic drill.

“It was definately a little more difficult because I had to play baseball and then manage to also try and rehab my ankle for football season,” Santana said.

The two played on the varsity team last year, but were not really expected to assume roles of leadership until this year. Neither of the two has had that difficult of a time adjusting to their new positions of leadership.

“It’s a little tougher because I don’t have as much experience, but it doesn’t faze me,” Santana said. “As the quarterback, I’m expected to be the leader of the offense.”

“It wasn’t that much of an adjustment, it was just a lot more responsibility to the team,” Combs said. “I don’t really feel that much pressure to lead, but it’s just something I’ve got to do.”

Teammates have been impressed with the leadership qualities shown by both.

“They are great leaders,” said Drew Williams, Div. 469. “Both of them know all their assignments and lead with contagious confidence.”

Danny Shine, backup quarterback and safety, Div. 561, had good things to say about both.

“Santana always puts someone in a good mood, and if they make a bad play, he always encourage them to do better. He also sets a great example and never loses his cool. Combs is a vocal leader and always leads by example,” Shine said.

“One of the first days of practice it was really hot and and everyone was struggling. Santana managed to still offer advice to his recievers and still help them make sure they were running the right routes,” Shine said.

The two haven’t had any problems with older teammates not respecting them or treating them differently.

“I feel as though I’m beginning to be trusted more and more by my teammates,” Santana said.

“The guys on defense are my homies so I don’t really feel the need to ever yell or be rude about something,” Combs said.

“There was one game where it was moving really quickly and we didn’t know the play and everyone was freaking out, but Combs didn’t lose his composure and helped make sure everyone knew where to go” Williams said.

Williams, a senior, has no problem with a junior being a captain if they are deserving.

“Its not strange at all, hes an upperclassman anyway, and plays far beyond his years.” he said.

“The age doesn’t matter,” Shine said. “It’s about how they carry themselves.”