FOOTBALL PROFILE: The Basics
Year: Senior (Class of 2022)
Weight: 195 pounds
2021 Stats (5 starts at OLB): 19 tackles (14 solo), 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 sack
INTRODUCTION: 5 Quick Questions
Q: Why did you choose your number?
“Last year (No. 16) was the only quarterback number left, or maybe one of the last three, and then I decided to stick with it this year because last year — I guess it’s sort of a weird thing — but I noticed it was clean and didn’t have any holes or marks from facemasks. When you look at other jerseys like twelve and sixty-four, or a bunch of lineman numbers, they are beat up. I just thought it would be cool if I put my mark on the jersey.”
Q: What is your favorite uniform combination?
“Um, to be honest I like them all. Obviously the Jordans are really nice. I really like when we match the top and bottoms.”
Q: Do you have any family connection to the OHS football program?
“My brother, Oran. He’s a sophomore. He wears (jersey) number one on B-Squad. He’s the only family that’s been in the program.”
Q: Are you involved in any other sports or activities?
“Wrestling and baseball.”
Q: Memorable phase frequently used by any coach:
“Every coach uses it with your responsibilities, and it’s ‘mow your own lawn.’ It’s about doing your job.”
INTERVIEW: Getting to Know Cael Dowling
Q: You started as one of the top candidates to secure one of the outside linebacker spots but actually started one game at quarterback against the most physically-imposing team you’ll face all season (Mankato West in Week 3). Since then, you’ve moved back to linebacker full-time and flourished. Basically, what has the last couple months been like and did you ever see yourself in this position as a play-making defensive standout?
“Freshman year through this year I have always been quarterback on offense. But on defense, freshman and sophomore year — and part of junior year — I was at cornerback in the secondary. And then, junior year I started getting taller and bigger and I figured I would grow even more, so I asked coach (Jerry) Eggermont if I could go over to outside linebacker because I knew there would be a spot open this year for my senior year. I had never gotten any snaps at outside linebacker until this year.
Q: There is some cross-over between defensive back and outside linebacker, but I imagine it was still a significant shift. Talk about what it was like to make that positional change at the beginning of the process.
“The primary responsibility is the run (at outside linebacker). That’s definitely different. One other big difference, and it might seem obvious, but it’s tackling. I have always known how to tackle, but never had much chance at cornerback freshman through junior year.”
Q: You have had quite a few strips and forced several fumbles. Is that more from being in the right place at the right time, or is that something you are looking to do?
“Mostly, I think it’s been right place, right time. In that strip-sack against Austin I was just going for the tackle and I just scraped across the ball and it popped out. And then, if you are in position and you have like three guys tackling, I’ll reach a hand in there and try to pull it out, but that hasn’t happened yet.”
Q: With Jacob Ginskey settling in as the first-string quarterback and the roles are more defined at the position, do you think that has helped you focus and thrive on defense?
“I will always do what I have to do in order to help the team, and that meant playing quarterback against West. That’s just how it is. But it definitely is, refreshing – that’s a good word for it – to be able to focus on defense.”
Q: Is there a point when you felt like you mentally turned the corner and started grasping your new position at linebacker, or has it been gradual?
“I think it’s been gradual. There is still a lot of stuff in comparison to last year that I need to learn about the position. Coach Eggermont in practices this year has been harping on me because obviously I don’t have the experience and when I look at last year, he wasn’t correcting guys like (Connor) Budach and (Matt) Seykora as much as someone like me who hasn’t played the position for as long as them.”
Q: The starting linebacker group is pretty dynamic now that Grant Achterkirch and Conner Grems are healthy and Drew Kretlow playing well all season. Talk about how you complement each other as a core of players and do you feel like you are developing as a formidable unit?
“Yeah, for sure. I think for me, personally, I have gotten more comfortable through Week One, through whenever we got Grant back. As an outside linebacker you are outside contain on the edge and knowing that we have Grant and Kretlow, it makes you comfortable knowing that if you set the edge, those two are going to clean it up.”