Due to injuries to quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart, sophomore Ben Hollenbeck was called on to make a start against Yelm on Sept. 23. He took the opportunity and ran with it.
Through three games, Hollenbeck has 483 yards and seven touchdowns on 58 carries. He’s been so electric in the running game that he has remained the starter for the Tides in this crucial stretch of the season.
He’s definitely a dynamic weapon. We’re still growing with him. He did a decent job in the pass game. He’s starting to understand that when he runs around, keep your eyes up and good things will happen.
Aaron Chantler, Gig Harbor coach
“He’s definitely a dynamic weapon,” Gig Harbor coach Aaron Chantler said. “We’re still growing with him. He did a decent job in the pass game. He’s starting to understand that when he runs around, keep your eyes up and good things will happen.”
Hollenbeck is 31 for 50 with 372 yards and six touchdowns in the passing game. In his three games as Gig Harbor’s starter, the Tides are averaging 43 points per game. Not bad for a kid that didn’t even think of himself as a quarterback a few short weeks ago.
“I was returning kicks, playing some cornerback,” he said. “But I was ready for it — I had been practicing all year. I felt prepared.”
After taking the job, he hasn’t looked back.
I think this offense fits me perfectly. I’m a good runner, I can pass. I just ran with it.
Ben Hollenbeck, Gig Harbor sophomore quarterback
“Honestly, I didn’t feel any pressure,” Hollenbeck said. “I think this offense fits me perfectly. I’m a good runner, I can pass. I just ran with it.”
Gig Harbor senior receiver and defensive back Marc Fletcher has been impressed by what he’s seen from his sophomore quarterback, even going as far as to offer a flattering comparison to one of his former teammates.
“It’s almost like seeing a little, baby (Davis Alexander, Gig Harbor’s all-time leading quarterback),” he said. “It’s been cool to see Ben come up. It’s fun to see him make plays, like he did (against Shelton).”
The passing game remains a work in progress. Hollenbeck is working on rolling out to his left, making quicker decision and keeping his eyes downfield when he scrambles.
“I’ve been fighting that a lot lately,” he said. “I’ve always been a run-first type of guy. I just need to reset my head, get to the pass first.”
Last week against Shelton, Hollenbeck showed he was able to keep his eyes downfield in Gig Harbor’s 38-21 win, at one point throwing a strike to Fletcher for a touchdown after a scramble. Once that passing game comes to fruition, Hollenbeck expects the Tides to be a dangerous team.
“We’ve put up a lot of points lately,” he said. “We just have to start out faster and execute on the passing plays. Our run game is awesome right now.”