To say Jaelin Goldsmith takes football too matter-of-factly would be an understatement.
Cascade Christian coaches joke that when the sophomore quarterback smiles, things must be going really well.
Come late November, Goldsmith could be wearing a perma-grin if he can lead the Puyallup school back to the Class 1A state championship game for the second consecutive season – and fifth in a row overall.
Thrown into the fire last year as a ninth-grader, Goldsmith threw for 1,606 yards and 23 touchdowns, taking the Cougars to the 1A title game at the Tacoma Dome, where they lost, 28-7, to Eastern Washington powerhouse Connell.
“He had a tremendous year,” Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis said. “He surprised me.”
Davis admitted when his assistant coaches suggested making Goldsmith the starter, he balked at the idea. By the second game of the season, the freshman was getting snaps. A week later, he had the job all to himself.
This year, the expectations have grown.
“He has worked hard in the offseason, and worked at getting stronger,” Davis said. “He has really taken over leadership, and had a great (team) camp in Wenatchee.
“You can see pure fear in a player’s eyes sometimes, but he’s calm and collected and takes charge in the huddle. That just amazes me.”
Calling his first state experience a “bittersweet dream,” Goldsmith admitted that he may have been too calm going into the championship game.
“My mindset and focus weren’t on (it being) as big a game as it was,” he said.
Returning is a mix of experienced upperclassmen and mature sophomores, who are expected to step in to key varsity positions – giving Goldsmith and the Cougars a ton of weapons.
“Iron sharpens iron,” Goldsmith said. “We’re just trying to make ourselves better and be our best selves on Friday.”
Confidence – and ability – is natural for Goldsmith, who took up football in fifth grade. His father, Vince, was a standout lineman at Mount Tahoma (1974-77), and went on to be a two-time All-Pacific-10 Conference defensive tackle at Oregon and win the Morris Trophy as the conference’s top defensive lineman in 1980.
The elder Goldsmith later played 10 seasons in the Canadian Football League.
“He’s got it in his genes,” Davis said of the Jaelin.
With the football in the younger Goldsmith’s hands, it’s up to him to know what to do with it.
“There’s something about the position – if something goes wrong, you look to the quarterback; if something goes right, bless the quarterback,” Goldsmith said with a laugh.