SOLON – First things first. What’s up with that jersey?
Jacob Black sports number “20″ for the Solon Spartans, not exactly a quarterback’s number. There’s got to be a story behind it.
“Yeah, I know that’s goofy,” Black said. “When I was younger, my cousin wore the number 20. I really looked up to him, so I started wearing that when I was in junior high. And I played running back in junior high before I transitioned over to quarterback in high school. I still wore it my freshman year and just didn’t want to give it up.”
Black was at Monticello until transferring the middle of his junior year last January. His mother, Kristy, is Dean of Regional and County Center at Kirkwood Community College, and her office got moved to the main campus.
The family moved to Solon. It just so happened “20″ was available there, so he gladly snatched it up.
“It’s my favorite number,” he said.
You’d think it’d be “six” instead, with all the touchdowns he has accounted for this season. Black has rushed for 16 of them and thrown for 14 more.
Solon (10-1) plays at Decorah (11-0) in a Class 3A playoff quarterfinal Friday night at 7.
“We knew that he was a good athlete,” Solon Coach Kevin Miller said. “He can make plays with his feet and by throwing the football. Everything goes through him on our offense.”
“I guess I could account a lot of my success because of my team’s success,” Black said, deflecting credit, as most good quarterbacks do. “Everyone around me is a big help. I have a great offensive line, great athletes around me. On defense, we’re all just pretty tough and like to play a lot.”
Black is a defensive back as well. That obviously wasn’t as tough a transition for him as quarterback, though he has made that rather seamlessly.
He said Solon’s shotgun spread is similar to what he ran at Monticello, which helped.
“It’s actually pretty similar in the schemes and the read options,” he said. “I can still run the ball and sprint out. It’s the same stuff I was used to, it’s just some of the schemes and formations are different. I think I’ve adapted pretty well, and I really like it. I guess you could say I’m multi-dimensional. I like to run and pass, and it’s kind of nice that the team encourages whatever might be best in a game.”
“He’s a smart kid,” Miller said. “He has a good understanding of what we want to do, our schemes offensively. He has earned the respect of everyone here, that’s for sure. He came in last January, and played basketball, ran track in the spring, so he was pretty familiar with his (football) teammates. I think he has done a great job of acclimating himself.”
He said that part came with the help of his new schoolmates.
“It was tough at first because I didn’t know anyone, and I was in the second half of my junior year,” Black said. “But when I moved, all the kids were great and really accepted me right away. That was really nice. I started to make friends with a bunch of guys on the football team and the basketball team and all the sports I was a part of. They just accepted me, and some of them, I feel like I’ve known them my entire life. It’s been great.”