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Prep Football: Chargers’ Holmes playing up to abilities
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
Chris Holmes is a three-sport standout at Chancellor High School.
But Chargers football coach Bob Oliver said Holmes doesn’t have the stereotypical demeanor of a star athlete.
Oliver said Holmes would rather remain reserved than “beat his chest.”
“Chris is a quiet kid,” Oliver said. “Sometimes kids are like that. You want them to shine. But on the football field you’ve got 11 guys and sometimes it’s easy to hide. They don’t really want the spotlight for several reasons.”
Oliver said not only was Holmes quiet off the field, his confidence on it, was lacking, too.
That was until college coaches began showing up at Chancellor in droves.
Holmes didn’t receive any all-Battlefield District recognition in 2011.
Still, the wide receiver and defensive back’s highlight tapes were impressive enough for him to receive 11 Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers.
Holmes orally committed to North Carolina State to play safety in July.
With the recruiting process over and his confidence at an all-time high, the Chargers (1–0) are expecting a big senior season from Holmes as they prepare for tonight’s nondistrict home game against Spotsylvania County rival Massaponax (1–0).
“You can tell a kid until you’re blue in the face, ‘You need to get confidence because you can do this or you can do that,’” Oliver said. “Sometimes the kid says, ‘Well that’s just my coach talking.’ But if I knock on your classroom door and I say ‘I want you to meet coach so-and-so from South Carolina or North Carolina, that’s a tangible thing. If I bring eight, nine, 10 coaches then you look at the kid and say ‘It’s all out in front of you, man.’”
Oliver said so far, Holmes has received the message.
He’s playing this season in honor of his older brother, Jermon “Jay” Howard, who died at age 27 in an automobile accident in July, 16 days after Holmes committed to N.C. State.
“He was older, but we were real close,” Holmes said. “He was proud of me.”
Howard would’ve been proud after Holmes’ season-opening performance against Riverbend. His 17-yard touchdown catch on a slant pattern in the second quarter gave the Chargers a 19–0 lead en route to a 25–6 victory.
Holmes (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) also played cornerback and helped shut down one of the Bears’ top receivers.
“I think the [scholarship] offers really built his confidence,” Chancellor offensive coordinator Don Joy said. “You see a little bit of a different swagger with him when he comes out.”
Holmes was first called up to varsity as a sophomore. Oliver said he was a “spot starter” on defense, but didn’t record any catches at wide receiver in the Chargers’ triple-option offense.
Chancellor switched to a pistol offense last year and made the commitment to throw the ball more. Holmes finished the season with 20 receptions for 341 yards and four touchdowns.
“I didn’t have a catch my sophomore year because all I did was block,” Holmes said. “It was pretty tough. I like having the ball thrown to me instead of just blocking. So, this is exciting.”
After showing progress on the football field last fall, Holmes had a breakthrough on the basketball court, too.
He was named Battlefield District Player of the Year and was a first-team All-Area selection. He was also all-district in multiple events for Chancellor’s track and field team, but Oliver said he remained quiet about his accomplishments.
“He had a heck of a basketball season last year, and you wouldn’t have known it if you were in the school,” Oliver said. “It’s not like he tries to announce it. He takes accolades as they come.”
If Holmes develops the way the coaching staff expects this season, more accolades may come his way.
Joy admitted that Chancellor’s players and coaches were a bit taken aback by the college interest he received because they’re around him all the time.
But now that Holmes is on the radar, Oliver reminded him earlier this summer that he needs to be ready for increased attention from opposing teams. Holmes immediately expressed confidence he’ll be just fine.
“I told him, ‘Are you ready for the microscope because you’re not going to sneak up on anyone,’” Oliver said. “With getting notoriety about recruiting, he has to be ready for facing everybody’s best. He told me, ‘Coach, I can handle it. I’m going to get it done.’”
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526