A step toward the futurePublished 8:34pm Friday, August 17, 2012
BLOOMING PRAIRIE — Blooming Prairie sophomore John Rumpza has some pretty big shoes to fill.
That’s just fine, because Rumpza has some pretty big feet.
Rumpza, who is 6-feet, 6-inches tall, is taking over as the Awesome Blossoms’ quarterback this fall.
To put that in perspective, BP’s previous quarterback Luc Zellmer, has more touchdown passes (102) than anyone in Minnesota high school football history, and another one of BP’s former quarterbacks, Spencer Ohm, played for Division II Concordia-St. Paul and had a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings this summer.
Rumpza, who was the backup quarterback on last year’s BP team that lost in the Class ‘A’ state semifinals in the Metrodome, knows what awaits him and he’s not about to flinch.
“There’s lots of pressure and there’s high expectations,” Rumpza said. “I’m excited and everyone else is excited. It’s tough to match up with what Luc did, but I try not to compare myself because I think we’re really different quarterbacks.”
Zellmer, who will be a wide receiver at the University of Wisconsin River Falls due to a shoulder injury, spent plenty of time working out with Rumpza this summer. Most of the time Zellmer was the one running the routes and Rumpza was making the throws.
“He worked a lot with Luc this summer and that’s helped out John a lot,” BP head coach Chad Gimbel said. “We gave him some drills and tapes to work on in the summer and he did those religiously. You can really see the difference in his delivery.”
As he looks to replace Zellmer in the lineup, Rumpza has already earned Minnesota’s best career touchdown passer’s respect. Zellmer said he’ll continue to follow the Blossoms and he thinks Rumpza has a good career ahead of him.
“He has the work ethic you need and he’s pretty dang tall. I wish I had that height,” Zellmer said. “It may take him a couple of snaps to get going, but I guarantee he’ll figure it out.”
When Rumpza was growing up in BP, he wasn’t caught up in the hysteria of Blossom football. In fact, he didn’t even enjoy playing youth football.
Rumpza did watch quarterbacks Ohm and Austin Moe, who played with John’s older brother, but he wasn’t necessarily thinking about being a quarterback at the time.
“I honestly was never a big fan of football when I was younger,” Rumpza said. “With the weight limit in fifth and sixth grade I had to play line and I never liked it that much until I started playing quarterback.”
Rumpza finally started playing quarterback in seventh grade and he started off by running most of the time. Over the past few years, he’s made some big strides with his arm.
“He’s really been accurate (in practice),” Gimbel said. “He throws a good ball and a tight spiral. He understands what’s going on and he’s going to be a leader.”
Rumpza has a couple of luxuries that most new quarterbacks don’t get in their first year at the helm — he’s playing behind a strong offensive line and he has a great crop of receivers to throw to.
“We have one of the best lines to ever probably come through here. That’s awesome to come right away and have a line like that,” Rumpza said.
As far as his targets go, Rumpza will have senior Michael Thomas, a 6-5 deep threat who was BP’s No. 2 receiver last season and he’ll have one of his good friends in fellow sophomore Cole Sunde, who saw some varsity time last year.
“Me and John are pretty tight,” Sunde said. “He knows what to do on every single play and if I don’t know what to do I just ask him and he’ll tell me.”
Thomas developed a strong connection with Zellmer and he is the main carry-over from last year’s skill position players. He said Rumpza has a chance to do just fine this season.
“I really like John at quarterback, he’s gonna be really good,” Thomas said. “He’s doing good so far and I think he’ll do it the rest of his career.”
BP will open its football season when it hosts New Richland-HEG Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.
A HISTORY OF SUCCCESS
BP’s last four quarterbacks:
Luc Zellmer, 3 years as a starter, 7,061 yards, 102 TDs
Austin Moe, 2 years as a starter, 4,158 yards, 49 TDs
Spencer Ohm 3 years as a starter, 6,267 yards, 73 TDs
Kraig Olson, 3 years as a starter, 6,036 yards, 63 TDs