First published in the Oct. 21 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
Due to its additional workload and the the added responsibility of completing college applications, high school football players sometimes skip their junior season. Often they never return, figuring that the burden of returning to “football shape” is too great.
Choosing the antithetical approach is San Marino High School senior Jayden Hollomand. A mainstay in the Titans’ basketball program, Hollomand surprised many in the school this past July when he showed up at football practices for the first time since originally setting foot on the campus in the fall of 2018.
And the son of Cynthia and Roger Hollomand hasn’t merely participated, he has greatly contributed to the Titans’ efforts as a versatile member of San Marino’s offense, defense and even special teams.
Hollomand’s football prowess was a mystery to most, but to those who lined up beside him during his three seasons in the San Marino Community Athletics Association’s flag football league, it was a known quantity.
“I played mostly running back and sometimes I threw the ball on a trick play that me and Owen Grannis made up,” Hollomand said with a chuckle, referring to his former and current teammate. “We won a championship in my last year with the Packers.”
But at the time, Hollomand was built more like a point guard than a free safety. “But I grew a lot during my junior year and I was more confident in playing,” Hollomand said. “I also wanted to try something new since it was my senior year and I knew it was going to be my last opportunity to play.”
Hollomand has worked his way onto the field in just about every way possible, earning playing time as a slot receiver on offense, cornerback on defense and also as a kick returner. So far this season, he has caught seven passes for 216 yards and a touchdown, including a remarkable leaping reception in his first-ever varsity game before many even knew he was on the squad.
They know him now.
“Jayden is awesome,” said Titan head coach Ray Torres. “He is very athletic and a very smart player. After this past game, I told him I wish he wasn’t a senior and that he had come out earlier in the summer. Everything he is doing out there is as a natural athlete. He knows how to move. I just wish I would have had a little more time with him.”
Torres also praised the senior’s knack for the mechanics of the game, which is rare for a relative beginner.
“You tell him, ‘This is your alignment and this is your assignment’ and let him go,” said Torres. “Beyond that, he is a natural athlete and a natural runner with an explosive element. Jayden also is a good listener and allows himself to be coached. He is a great kid.”
Hollomand acknowledged that the physical aspects of the game initially posed a challenge.
“The contact was not what I expected since I had only played flag football,” Hollomand said. “The first day in pads I took a huge shot from Michael [Prappas], which got me introduced to the hard hitting. After that day, the hitting really didn’t faze me.”
But the week-to-week nature of the game has had a lasting effect.
“My favorite part of football has to be game day,” Hollomand revealed. “The whole day I envision myself running plays, seeing the players I’m going up against, seeing the crowd cheering, while at the same time trying to do my homework. The feeling in the locker room before a game is unreal because of the energy everyone brings. When it’s game time, I get this feeling that I can’t explain. It’s an emotion that combines excitement, nervousness and joy.”
Hollomand has but a few weeks remaining to play the sport for he has quickly developed a passion, but is appreciative of the experience, no matter how brief.
“I’m glad I joined football because of the new friendships I’ve made and how everyone made me feel a part of the family,” he said. “I will definitely forever miss the bonds I’ve created with my teammates and coaches.”
Jayden has an older brother, Quintin, who graduated from San Marino High School in 2020 and was a four-year standout in the Titan basketball program.