During his junior football season, Jaxson Webb has adjusted to a faster speed of the game, plus bigger and stronger opponents. Those are some of the most distinct differences between smaller schools and the Class 6A level.
Then there’s a position change.
Webb transferred from Oskaloosa to Free State last spring, eventually carving out a role in the Firebirds’ offense. He started the season as a third-string quarterback, the position where he starred for Oskaloosa, but has provided a big help at receiver in the last few weeks.
Wherever he lines up, he’s happy to help his team when the top-ranked Firebirds go on the road to play Olathe Northwest (2-3) at 7 tonight at College Boulevard Activity Center.
“It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to try,” Webb said of moving to receiver. “I’ve always been in a quarterback role, but receiver has definitely been fun. It’s been something new. It’s a different way to look at the game and see it from a different perspective.”
Webb nearly caught a 20-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter last week, but it was called back on an illegal formation penalty.
In five games — the Firebirds are off to their first 5-0 start since 2006 — the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Webb has three catches for 20 yards, along with 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He’s still learning more and more about playing receiver, but he believes his history at quarterback is an advantage. He knows how to read defenses and where passers like to throw the ball.
“There’s still little things that we have to tweak here and there,” said Webb, who played occasionally at free safety at Oskaloosa. “There’s always new things that you can learn about the game. But I think I’ve caught on pretty well and understand a little bit. That quarterback position does help when you think about receiver, too.”
Along with Webb, Free State senior defensive tackle Spencer Roe formerly played at a smaller level. Roe, who transferred to Free State prior to the 2016 season, started at Perry-Lecompton.
“If you’re an athlete, which those guys are, it shows,” Free State coach Bob Lisher said. “They both fit in well here.”
Webb, who called 6A football “the real deal,” has made the adjustment from 3A look easy with his speed and physicality. He credited his teammates and coaches for pushing him at practice each day.
As far as his favorite position, Webb said he’s just thankful to play the game that he enjoys.
“He’s athletic enough to play a lot of positions, but he’s helped us out at receiver quite a bit,” Lisher said of Webb. “He’s been able to play quarterback and receiver, which that’s not easy.”
FSHS probable starters
LT — Turner Corcoran, so.
LG — Gabe Clark, sr.
C — Ben Holiday, jr.
RG — Shane Skwarlo, jr.
RT — Jalan Robinson, sr.
QB — Gage Foster, sr.
RB — Jax Dineen, jr.
H — L.J. Mack, jr.
WR — Colter Maldonado, so.
WR — Jake Rittman, sr.
TE — Jack Theisen, sr.
K — Kameron Lake, jr.
P — Jake Rittman, sr.
DT — Lovette Epelle, so.
NT — Nathan Spain, sr.
DT — Spencer Roe, sr.
OLB — Bo Miller, sr.
ILB — David Johnson, sr.
ILB — Jalen Nash, jr.
OLB — Gage Foster, sr.
CB — Kwinton Lassiter, sr.
CB — Gabe del Valle, sr.
S — Vani Martinez-Vazquez, sr.
S — Keenan Garber, jr.