RAVENNA — Ravenna football has experienced a resurgence during the last two years.
After a three-year stretch that consisted of two straight winless seasons and a one-win campaign in 2017, the Bluejays won six games last year and posted a seven-win total this season.
At the center of the turnaround was quarterback Jake Jarzynka.
Jarzynka’s play-making ability in the passing and running games propelled the Bluejays and led to the left-handed throwing senior signal caller earning the distinction as this year’s Kearney Hub 6-Man/8-Man Player of the Year.
“The biggest thing about Jake is he’s one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever been around,” said Ravenna coach Dan Bolling. “Not only is he a hard-working kid, but he’s really cerebral and student of the game. You don’t ever have to tell him anything twice. He will take what you say and run with it.”
This year, the Bluejays were ineligible for the playoffs for a second consecutive season because their boys enrollment total exceeded the 8-man limit of 47. It caused the Bluejays to have different goals than the teams with state championship aspirations. Instead, the Bluejays wanted to build on their 6-2 record in 2018 and win the district title.
They accomplished both of those goals.
They defeated Heartland in the final game of the season, 78-14, to secure the district crown and post a 7-1 record. The Bluejays’ lone loss came to Cambridge (10-1) in the second week of the season.
Jarzynka was a major factor in the Bluejays’ success. He posted his third consecutive 1,000-yard passing season this year, finishing with a 62.7 completion percentage, 1,354 passing yards and 21 passing touchdowns. He also served as a valuable option in the running game, scrambling for 403 yards and a team-high 10 scores.
He made an impact on defense, as well, recording 56 total tackles and three interceptions.
“Jake is just savvy and smart,” Bolling said. “He’s not the fastest guy in the world, and he’s not the biggest guy. But he always finds a way to get the job done. He’d be the first one to tell you that he has great weapons around him, and he knows when it’s his time or when he needs to get someone else the ball.”
Jarzynka played varsity football since he was a freshman. He said he mainly appeared on defense but occasionally played receiver his first season.
As a sophomore in 2017, Jarzynka moved to quarterback and gradually improved in each of his final three high school seasons.
He finished his career with 3,725 yards and 56 touchdowns through the air while rushing for 1,379 yards and 21 TDs.
“I thought our season was a great building point for our community, school and program,” Jarzynka said. “Just coming as freshman from 0-8 to 1-7 to building up to 6-2 and then going 7-1 was a pretty big boast to end our senior year. It was pretty cool.”
Besides playing football, Jarzynka has participated in basketball, track and field and American Legion baseball. He’s a four-year starter on the basketball team and averaged 11.2 points per game last season.
After his senior season at Ravenna, Jarzynka will play baseball at the collegiate level. He signed his national letter of intent to play at Hastings College where he will serve as a left-handed pitcher, first baseman and outfielder.
He said he considered playing football in college but has a stronger passion for baseball. The Hastings coaching staff and academic instructors stood out to Jarzynka and played a key role in his decision to commit to the college, he added. He will attend Hastings with an intended major of actuarial science.
“The most important thing I will take away is my friendships with my team, the coaches and the community,” Jarzynka said. “You can’t buy those anywhere or get those anywhere else. It’s just unreal, the relationships.”