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By Ethan Divis, C.R. Kennedy senior
CEDAR RAPIDS — It is rare for a sophomore to be called up to varsity, let alone two at the same time.
But Austin Holzer and Drew Heitland did that two years ago, starting along the offensive line for the Cedar Rapids Kennedy football team.
“There was a lot of pressure being a sophomore and being called up to varsity,” said Holzer, who was named third team all-state his sophomore year. “The whole team’s looking at you thinking you’re a sophomore. Once we got into the season there was no feeling of discontent,”
“The hardest part was just learning the speed of the game,” Heitland said. “My favorite part was probably just playing with my brother (Trevor).”
Kennedy Coach Tim Lewis said the freshmen coaches had a lot of good things to say about the duo.
“We called them up during camp to see what they got …,” he said. “I think only six sophomores before them got called up to varsity and actually started. What a lot of people don’t see is their work ethic, they’re extremely nice kids off the field then they’re able to flip that switch.”
Now they’re both seniors and have lead Kennedy to a 4-2 start this year.
“It feels surreal being a senior,” Holzer said. “It feels like my sophomore year with the coaches yelling ‘seniors this is your year, this is all for you’ but now I’m that senior.”
Kennedy hasn’t had a winning record after the first three weeks since 2008.
“Seeing the team come together like this and we’re already 4-2,” Heitland said. “Now that Austin and I are both seniors it helps to be great leaders.”
Heitland started at center for his first two years, but shed some pounds and now finds himself playing tight end.
“It definitely wasn’t planned,” Lewis said. “A couple of our guys went to a seven-on-seven tournament and they needed a tight end and Drew just stepped in,”
College is on the horizon for both players, but they are both being recruited a little different. Holzer is of the Mormon faith and is required to go on a mission for two years after high school, where he won’t be able to play any football.
“Me going on my mission for two years makes it a little more difficult for college recruiters to kind of reach out because they know you’re going to be gone for two years,” he said. “In the end it will all work out.”
For Heitland, making the switch from center to tight end has put his position for college at question.
“Drew’s now kind of a ’tweener, he can play tight end or on the line,” Lewis said. “Personally I’d like to see him be reunited with his brother at Coe.”
The Cougars host Waterloo West on Thursday at Kingston Stadium.