Urbandale seniors Caleb Bright and Jake Heinrich first met before their freshman year at a swimming pool.
They had no idea what their shared football future held.
“We’d never have thought both of us would be playing for Division I football teams,” Bright said. “We were both barely 200 (pounds) at that time.”
The attitude of the close friends has grown as much as their bodies since that time.
“We weren’t quite as serious about football then,” Heinrich said.
Urbandale went 5-5 last season. The sizeable J-Hawk duo plans to give the team’s veer offense a lot of options this fall. Heinrich has started since he was a freshman; Bright will be a three-year starter.
“The biggest is they’ve both had a lot of experience on the field,” Urbandale coach Sam Anderson said. “That leadership is a huge factor.”
Starting as a ninth-grader was a big initiation to Heinrich.
“Playing varsity as a freshman, it’s helped me a lot,” Heinrich said. “It’s trial by fire.”
The players have the versatility to play guard or tackle. To line up on opposite sides of the line. To step onto the field for goal-line defensive sets.
For the first time, they’re also looking forward to regularly lining up side by side — Bright usually plays guard, Heinrich is a tackle.
“We’re going to pound the ball down defenses’ throats this year,” Bright said.
Urbandale running backs could find themselves following nearly 600 pounds of muscle in the duo.
The J-Hawks hope to have a talented crew working behind the linemen.
Senior Alex Newberg is the team’s returning rusher. He ran for 779 yards last season. Gee Nayou is a strong back who is coming off a knee injury.
Dalton Nelson returns at quarterback. He was a reserve last season.
Several others are challenging for playing time in the backfield, Anderson said.
The linemen have a role in bringing momentum to the offense.
“We always want more,” Bright said. “We’re never satisfied. We could have a 90-yard play and not score; we aren’t happy until we get a touchdown.
“One play could change that whole attitude.”
The joy of a first down or score brings high-fives and hugs.
“The game’s more fun when you’re making big plays,” Heinrich said.
The college routes will separate Bright and Heinrich next year. For now, there’s joy in one final season together to make lasting memories.
“We’ll be lifelong friends even after football’s done,” Bright said.