Going into the 2016 season, the Holy Angels' football program knew they were going to be a young team without much experience. A few sophomores need to step into roles they might not have expected. Such was the case for junior Thomas…
Going into the 2016 season, the Holy Angels' football program knew they were going to be a young team without much experience. A few sophomores need to step into roles they might not have expected.
Such was the case for junior Thomas Shelstad. Shelstad not only started as a sophomore, but he was also placed in a leadership role and was counted on to be a jack of all trades.
“We were a pretty young group. We had to work through some things,” Shelstad said. “We had a few really good games, but sometimes we just couldn't finish them off and fell short.”
Shelstad was given the responsibilities of an upperclassmen early in the season.
“I was the guy who would get the calls out to the defense,” Shelstad said. “I was the strong safety, but I would play outside linebacker and a little middle linebacker. That was my first time playing varsity, and I was a little nervous at first being the young guy and what people would think. Towards the end of the year, I got used to it.”
Where he lined up on defense would depend on the type of offense the opponent was running.
“If we were playing a power team I would play strong safety,” Shelstad said, “and would drop down and try to force them inside. When I played outside linebacker, it was against a passing team.”
Moving back and forth between the positions came easily for the sophomore.
“When I am playing strong safety, and I walk down it is kind of like an outside linebacker covering the flats and curl route,” said NFN's 20th ranked player from the Class of 2019. “Even with the run, I am usually a contain player. When the play is forced out to me, I have to make the right reads and make the tackle.”
Shelstad lists his quick thinking and his quick feet as his biggest assets.
“I can make the reads fast enough. I can get to right spots fast enough and can make tackles.”
Shelstad didn't play a lot of offense, but his role was like that of a utility infielder in baseball. He would play in the slot – mainly to block – he would spell starting running back Jack Anderson and even played quarterback in a pinch. When the playoffs started, Shelstad suffered a groin injury and missed most of the Stars' playoff run.
“I was practicing the whole week (before the Mound Westonka playoff game) fine,” the 5'10″ 200-pound defender said, “but It progressively got worse during practices. I tried to play, but (as the game progressed) I couldn't run or anything.”
Shelstad had surgery immediately after the season and was able to get back in time for basketball season.
“I played a little varsity as a freshman and last year – we didn't have a set line up – but I was kind of the starting point guard. I wouldn't say I am a pass first point guard, but I am fast with the ball, make good decisions and play good defense. I am not much of a scorer.”
In the spring Shelstad ran the 100-yard dash and competed in the triple jump. This summer he did the Holy Angles football offseason program and went with his team to the South Dakota State team camp. He didn't go to any other football camps but was invited to a North Dakota camp an Elmhurst College football camp.
As he moves into the regular season, Shelstad expects to remain in the linebacker/strong safety role as well as being a primary back up at all the offensive skill positions. The main difference this year for Shelstad and his Holy Angels’ teammates is they have the experience to be ready for it.