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Holmes selected as all-state athlete

There is always debate when a list of all-state players is released. Fans, coaches, and players all discuss where one guy finished and bring up names that were left off the list.

One thing about this year’s list from the Pennsylvania Football Writer’s 4A team truly stands out as the right decision: Justin Holmes wasn’t chosen as an All-State quarterback. Instead, he was chosen as an “offensive athlete” which more correctly describes his role with the Northwestern Lehigh Tigers this past season.

With the departure of Deven Bollinger for the University of Delaware, head coach Josh Snyder had a gaping hole at quarterback to fill. To fill that hole, he opened another when he chose Holmes to become the team’s starting quarterback, moving him in from wide receiver, where he excelled for the Tigers in 2019. Snyder depended on Holmes talent and the ability of younger players to fill the void at the receiver position.

After some early jitters, Holmes showed that the move was the right one. Holmes started to show an ability to spread the ball around with four different players pulling in 10 or more catches during the season, but he also showed that he gave the Tigers another explosive option by tucking the ball away and picking up yards on the ground.

“We had some guys that we thought could fill in at receiver and we felt that Justin had the talent to play quarterback and that his ability to run with the ball would be a definite asset to the team,” said Snyder. “He really worked at learning the little things and didn’t hang his head when he got off to a rough start in the opener. He just came in the next week and worked even harder and each week he was a better player.”

Holmes went over the 1,000-yard mark in rushing and over the 1,400-yard mark in passing this season for Northwestern while using his legs and arm for a combined 31 touchdowns. Holmes also became a key cog on defense and on special teams for Northwestern Lehigh in 2020.

“He was rarely off the field for us,” Snyder said of his junior all-star. “He was strong on defense and he was also our primary punt returner and our primary kick returner. Whatever we asked him to do, he was willing to take on the task and do it as well as he possibly could.”

Snyder thought that Holmes had a chance to be named to the All-State Team, but also conceded that there are a lot of talented players across the commonwealth, so nothing was going to be handed to any of the players who were chosen for the team.

“I think when you look at Justin’s numbers you realize he’s one of the better players around, but there are a lot of quality players around the state,” said Snyder. “When you get to see him play each week though you really start to realize just how important he is to the team and when you’re around him at practice and see his commitment and how hard he works, you understand why he’s an all-state caliber player.”

The all-state nod wasn’t the only postseason recognition for Holmes. The Colonial League Football Coaches Association voted on an all-star team and players of the year recently. Holmes was selected as the first-team quarterback and offensive player of the year for the league.

PRESS PHOTO BY ALAN ZUZIC Justin Holmes was named to the Pennsylvania Football Writers All-State team as an offensive athlete.