Germantown's Holcomb, Higginbotham earn NOW grid honors
Warhawks' players led team to a 9-3 record
Germantown NOW All-Suburban wide receiver Nick Holcomb is following in a lot of footsteps, and not just those of big brother, Ben, who also earned the honor in 2011 and who went on to play football at Minnesota.
No, Germantown, which was long noted for its "three yards and a cloud of dust" attitude from the 1960s through the 1980s, has, since the late 1990s, turned out one high-quality receiver after another including the likes of other All-Suburban selections like Greg Rogers (2006) and Louis Tuszynski (2011) and Nick Holcomb is the latest in that line.
Holcomb has adopted a "catch anything that's thrown my way" attitude that casually dismisses double-teams or well-positioned defensive backs. He broke his own brother's record for touchdown catches in a season this fall with 12 and broke the school career mark with 16 scoring grabs. Holcomb was joined this year on the NOW team by tenacious and strong Warhawks defensive lineman Hunter Higginbotham.
Holcomb is smart enough to know that all this success could only happen if he has a good quarterback to work with, and in second-year Warhawks starter Dwayne Lawhorn he has one.
Lawhorn himself broke many school records and is the latest in a strong line of QBs going back to Ben Croatt in the late 1990s, and including the likes of David Pietrowiak, Cody Griebling and Josh Mongan.
"He's a darn good quarterback to work with," Holcomb said. "He makes it a lot easier to be a receiver because you don't have to work so hard to find the ball."
Family bragging rights
But Holcomb, as part of a deep receiving corps, worked hard to make himself stand out. he had the motivation of big brother, Ben, who wound up being a state high hurdle champion in track.
"It was totally my goal to beat some of his records," Nick said with a laugh. "It was good (when I did)."
Extra work in the weight room and in agility and receiver camps combined with improved route running allowed him to greatly improve his yards after the catch, coach Jake Davis said . He also evaded tacklers like he was a leaf in a high wind and also had the strength to break through arm tackles like they were tissue paper.
"I pride myself on being able to cut quick and be agile," Holcomb said. "I definitely think I should be able to catch everything that comes to me."
Holcomb also helped out the team as a defensive back, though he said playing on offense is definitely more fun.
Davis said he was invaluable this season as the Warhawks finished a fine 9-3 season.
"He knows how to play the ball and knows how to catch the ball and run," Davis said.
Meanwhile, Higginbotham was a linchpin in an athletic and active defensive front for the Warhawks that helped lead the unit to a solid 16 points a game allowed average this season.
He's a two-time state qualifier in wrestling and is looking for a third berth this season. Strong as an ox and incredibly agile for 250 pounds, he made life miserable for opposing offensive linemen in his third-year starting for the football team.
"He's an unbelievably strong kid and what really makes him great is that he fights right to the end of plays," Davis said. "Just a huge motor and a true leader."
"A lot of that was just plain hard work," Higginbotham said. "We work hard trying to do what the coaches ask us. I also spent a lot of time with coach (Dave) Branske (Germantown's defensive coordinator) and that helped a lot this season especially with my bull rush and 'push-pull' (techniques). Wrestling has also helped me maintain good position (on plays)."
Higginbotham said the defense took great pride in its improvement this season and he notes that people like junior defensive end Lincoln Gruber made his life a lot easier up front.
"He's already a real good one," Higginbotham said of Gruber. "He may be a great one yet."
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