After half a season playing at what felt like school-zone speed, Truckee quarterback Erik Holmer was more than ready when he finally got the chance to go full throttle.
The results speak for themselves. With a healthy Holmer throwing with confidence, the Wolverines marched through the second half of their schedule, eventually claiming their fourth straight Division I-A state title.
For his leadership during Truckee's second-half surge and for his impressive individual numbers -- which included 1,141 passing yards in the Wolverines' final five games -- Holmer is the 2012 RGJ All-North Division I-A Player of the Year.
Finishing his senior season as any sort of MVP never crossed Holmer's mind after he dislocated the thumb on his right (throwing) hand in a preseason scrimmage. An inability to grip the ball led to weeks of frustration for Holmer, who was a shadow of the player he felt he could be in the first half of the season.
"It definitely affected everything I did, especially throwing," said Holmer, who also played at defensive back. "It was just frustrating. I knew I should be making throws that I wasn't able to make. I felt like I was kind of letting the team down."
With Holmer at less than full effectiveness into early October, the Wolverines counted on other sources from a typically deep roster. Running back/linebacker Graham Christian and tight end/defensive end Zak Pettit, in particular, stepped up while coach Bob Shaffer and his staff waited to unleash a "tweaked" offensive scheme installed to take advantage of Holmer's strengths.
"We had Erik get hurt and some other injuries, and we thought, 'Whoa, we're in for a long haul now,'" Shaffer said. "Graham and Zak really stepped up, took the team on their shoulders and kept the ship afloat. We really didn't see Erik for the first time until the Fallon game (on Oct. 19)."
Holmer's statistics clearly show the benefits of full health. He attempted 10 or fewer passes in five of Truckee's first six games and finished with 75 or fewer yards in four of those. But in the Wolverines' last five games -- including three playoff wins -- Holmer could've been the most effective quarterback in the state. He threw for at least 205 yards in all five wins and tossed a combined 15 touchdown passes as Truckee marched to another title.
Not bad for a player not even named to the Div. I-A North all-league first or second teams.
"For all-league, he didn't garner a lot of notice; he just wasn't effective early in the year," Shaffer said. "But I heard a lot of comments later that he was a big reason we won again."
For Holmer, brought up in Truckee's team-first tradition, it was satisfying enough to fully contribute.
"It was super satisfying to go out the way I did, with the playoff run and winning state with all the teammates I've known for such a long time," Holmer said. "I'm so happy I was able to do that with all my friends."