Always one to lighten mood, Deer Lakes’ Hollibaugh got lighter to improve his play

Monday, August 12, 2019 | 4:59 PM

Deer Lakes football coach Tim Burk is never exactly sure what his tight end Jack Hollibaugh is going to say when he enters the locker room, but he knows it likely will be something funny.

“He’s the team jokester, and he lights up a room,” Burk said. “His personality is very unique. When Jack walks in, you think, ‘Which joke is he going to have?’ It’s never derogative or cutting people down. Jack’s just a character and a great individual. He keeps the team loose, that’s for sure.”

While Hollibaugh can be counted upon for his witty commentary, he takes the game seriously. The work he put in this summer is evidence of that.

Hollibaugh, a senior, spent the offseason working to get into better shape and lost approximately 30 pounds. As a trimmer and quicker player, there’s potential for him to make a big impact as the most experienced target in the Lancers receiving corps.

“I honestly just wanted to get faster and have quicker feet,” said Hollibaugh about his offseason weight-loss plan. “I feel like it got caught too much last year.”

Hollibaugh had a strong season going last fall with more than 500 receiving yards, but a pectoral injury sidelined him for the final three games.

Burk sees the potential for more this year after the work Hollibaugh put in.

“He looks more athletic now,” Burk said. “He’s not that big, burly Jerome Bettis type, but he’s still going to be tough to bring down. He’ll be faster now that he’s lost that weight, which will be good for him.”

Hollibaugh, who also plays linebacker, did the typical dietary changes and workout regimen to hit his weight-loss target, but one area that really paid dividends was putting a stop to late-night snacking.

He’s stopped eating anything after 8 p.m. and has seen positive results.

“I don’t eat anything before I go to bed. … I used to do that a lot, and now I don’t anymore,” Hollibaugh said. “A couple of my coaches told me about how that can affect you, but I never really thought anything of it until now.”

The jovial disposition Hollibaugh brings is natural to his personality, and it is something he will bring this season as a leader of a less-experienced receiver group after some key graduations. Colin Kadlick, who is at Slippery Rock, Jared Colton and Ethan Bender departed, leaving Hollibaugh as lone returner among last season’s top four receivers.

Hollibaugh has worked with fellow receivers Zac Herbinko, Trey Darrah, Ian Clark and others and always tries to keep things light.

“When people are happy and having fun, it’s a good environment,” Hollibaugh said. “People want to work harder, at least that’s the way I see it. I think it makes a more enjoyable atmosphere.”

Hollibaugh has a great rapport with quarterback Aris Hasley. The two have played together since their youth days.

Hasley, a senior, enjoys having a big target over the middle who he trusts and is looking forward to one last season with his good friend.

“Jack is hard to tackle for a lot of teams,” Hasley said. “He’s trimmed down, so he’ll have some more speed this year, and, hopefully, he can make some plays downfield. We’ve been working hard, and I’m excited to see how it translates to the field.”

While he likely will be the team’s top target, Hollibaugh has been impressed with some of his fellow receivers such as Clark and Darrah during pass scrimmages. He is confident that they will be able to step in and make plays to provide a balanced aerial attack.

“(Trey) has improved a bunch this summer,” Hollibaugh said. “He made some really good plays at the 7-on-7s that we were at. Ian Clark has been good, too. If you haven’t heard much about him, I’m sure you will this year.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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