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COMFORT ZONE

Southeast Valley QB Kruse a leader on, off the field

—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Kolson Kruse, quarterback for Southeat Valley, made the switch from wide receiver to quarterback this season. The Jaguars are having one of their best seasons in school history and are in the third round of the playoffs.

GOWRIE — Kolson Kruse is the type of player coaches want teammates to emulate both on and off the field.

The Southeast Valley junior is also the guy who wants what’s best for his program before the individual accolades come his way.

Simply put: Kruse does whatever it takes to see his squad succeed.

“He is a true athlete,” said Mike Swieter, coach of the fifth-ranked Jaguars. “We have a lot of trust in him that he will do what we need him to do.”

Not only has Kruse achieved success in football, but he has also done it on the baseball diamond, basketball court and in the weight room, letting his work speak for itself. Kruse isn’t just a standout on the field or the court — he also carries 4.0 grade point average in the classroom.

“He is a great kid, a great athlete and a great leader,” Swieter said.

From third grade all the way through high school, Kruse had been a quarterback. Last season Kruse was needed elsewhere, playing mostly wide receiver and on defense at the varsity level.

After a somewhat-disappointing 5-4 record last year and the graduation of three-year starter Hunter Kruse as SV’s signal-caller, it was clear that Kolson would be the next man behind center.

“Being a young team last year going 5-4 really helped a lot of us see the field and get a certain level of comfort in a varsity game,” Kruse said. “Experience is crucial, but it can only do so much. I attribute most of our success to the work we put in all year in the weight room, and the football workouts in this summer.

“This season, there is just a new feeling of confidence. Every time we step on the field, we know we can rely on all the work we have put in.”

Kruse had a productive year at wideout as a sophomore, catching 11 balls for five touchdowns and 290 yards. But when his number was called to switch back to quarterback, he quickly made the jump.

“When we put in this new offense, we felt that his style of play was a perfect fit,” Swieter said. “Deep down, I think everyone knew that he was going to be our quarterback (heading into this season), given his athletic ability.

“We’ve made it clear that we would treat him as a running quarterback, and that he would be a running back first.”

Kruse has been far from one-dimensional, though. He is the fifth-ranked quarterback in Class 1A with an 18.3-yard per completion rate, and is fifth in 1A with a 139.8 quarterback rating. He has thrown for 897 yards and 10 touchdowns.

On the ground, Kruse has rushed for 625 yards and 11 TDs.

Kruse is also a starting linebacker on defense.

“He just takes control out there,” Swieter said. “He gets everyone lined up out there and is capable of calling an audible if something doesn’t look right. I tell him the offense is his and to just go for it.

“His only interception (in 89 attempts) was on a play I called to go directly to a certain receiver. I have tons of trust in him and his leadership out there. He just does whatever it takes.”

During the offseason with the COVID-19 pandemic, is was difficult for some athletes to train for the season. Kruse made the most of it, though.

“Quarantine was a setback, but it was a very successful time for me in the weight room,” Kruse said. “Luckily, I have some weights in my basement that a few teammates and I could lift with. It was my most successful lifting training block of my life, and allowed me to become a completely better athlete from last year until now.

“Along with improving in the weight room, I spent a lot of the summer doing our teams football 7-on-7s and began to get very comfortable preparing for my first year as quarterback. It was a great time to get on the same page as my wide receivers. We all feel great playing together.”

Swieter has seen the junior quarterback come into his own for a team that is headed for the third round of the playoffs.

“He is a leader on the field, off the field and in the weight room,” Swieter said. “In the weight room he directs a couple of kids in there and works with them. When he is in baseball he is in the weight room, when he is in football he is in the weight room.

“He works his vacation around all of his athletics and workouts. Same thing for basketball. He is an all-around athlete that just continues to make himself better.”

The numbers speak for themselves, but the humility adds another dimension to his arsenal.

“This team is special because we play for one another and know that if we each do our 1/11 we will have a good shot to win any game we play,” Kruse said. “We thrive with our backs against the wall, because we are an experienced team that doesn’t get too up or too down. If things start going south, I love our team’s ability to refocus and either get the crucial stop we need or get the score we need.

“We don’t panic and feel comfortable in whatever situation we are in.”

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