COLUMBUS North senior linebacker Jacob Hamblin has been good at chasing down ball carriers.
Now, though, it’s being done in a different area of the field.
Hamblin was one of the Bull Dogs’ leading tacklers in 2013 because he would catch the opponents after they made big gains. This season, he is tackling them before they get past the line of scrimmage.
“It’s about knowing when the play is going away from you,” said Hamblin, who has 13 tackles in the first two games this season and three tackles for losses. “You cut through the line and chase it down. We call it ‘steak knife.’”
Hamblin’s quickness will be put to the test Friday when Columbus North travels to Bloomington North in the Conference Indiana opener for both football teams.
Bloomington North has a dangerous passing attack which will keep the Bull Dogs linebackers busy in coverage.
“They’ve got a lot of speed on the team and their quarterback (Jack Smith) is very shifty,” Hamblin said.
It should be a different kind of game for Hamblin, who said his main duty is “blowing up lead blockers.”
Columbus North coach Tim Bless said Hamblin will do fine Friday whether he is dropping back into pass coverage or chasing Smith.
“His aggressiveness has increased because his confidence has increased,” Bless said. “He has more snaps under his belt and he is the most veteran presence we have in our linebackers corps.”
The Bull Dogs might need that veteran presence this week after coming off a 42-14 loss to rival Columbus East.
“(The seniors) have to make sure we are focused and ready to go,” Hamblin said about coming off the loss to the Olympians. “We look forward to being 1-0 in conference play. We’re ready to move on to a new chapter.”
After failing to contain Columbus East tailback Markell Jones, who is headed to Purdue, Columbus North now faces Bloomington North wide receiver Drew Ludwig, who has committed to Air Force.
“He is a big guy and we have small corners,” Hamblin said. “But we have to contain him. Once we get settled in, we will do fine.”
North probably needs a bit more settling in among its linebackers. Outside linebacker Sean Dasovich is just a junior who had some experience as a sophomore last season while junior Brice McDaniel was
shifted back to middle linebacker from defensive end.
“We’re definitely a more veteran group this season,” Hamblin said. “I think we have a good linebacker corps and we all know what to do. I think we all have a good football IQ and we don’t try to do each others’ jobs.”
North senior Josh Holt, who sat out the first two games with a sprained knee, is expected to see action Friday in the linebacker corps as well.
At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Hamblin is the second strongest player on the team behind offensive lineman Hunter Wolford, a 295-pounder. He appears primed to have a big senior season.
“I’m just more aggressive this year filling the holes,” he said. “It’s just that added knowledge, knowing what to look for.”
North fans will be looking to see whether the Bull Dogs can bounce back from a disheartening loss.
“We had some cracks in our confidence,” Hamblin said. “We can recover.”