Jonathan Erickson misses spicy food.
Fort Collins has a serious lack of green chile to jolt the taste buds for the kid from New Mexico.
“There’s not good food here,” Erickson says wistfully.
Other than a bland diet, though, everything is thumbs-up for Erickson.
Erickson grew up in New Mexico, leading to his affinity for spicy food. In the spring he moved to live with family in Fort Collins.
Now he’s the starting quarterback for Fort Collins High School, determined to make his senior season a special one.
“Every kid’s dream that plays football is to be the starting varsity quarterback, playing in front of the band and all the fans,” Erickson said. “It’s always been a dream of mine, so to have that opportunity here is awesome.”
The lefty — listed at 6-foot-1, 172 pounds — played sparingly at Rio Rancho High School in suburban Albuquerque last year.
His move into town looks to be a perfect fit after Fort Collins’ quarterback Jacob Moyer graduated in May.
When coach Eric Rice and his staff started putting together an early depth chart in the spring, they had Cory Lange at quarterback after he played some in the position last year.
Then Erickson showed up, opening doors of possibilities. He could play QB, while Lange moves to a hybrid position that’s part H-back, part fullback, part slot receiver. It’s rare Rice finds a player athletic and smart enough to fill the role, but Lange fits the bill.
So Erickson’s arrival made the team better in several spots. He’s an athletic quarterback with a strong arm, capable running Rice’s full offense. But that’s not what caught the coach’s attention.
“All the physical tools appear to be there, but playing quarterback is so much more than the physical tools of the game,” Rice said. “I think the biggest thing that I see in him is good leadership. He’s done a really good job connecting with teammates. As a transfer guy, that’s hard to do.”
Rice jokes that Erickson seems to have a choreographed handshake with everyone on the team. Erickson says the players welcomed him immediately and he spent the summer gathering at city parks to throw routes with receivers.
“I feel super comfortable,” Erickson said. “We’re only going to get better as the year goes on, because the more we play together, the more chemistry we build.”
He makes his debut in Fort Collins at 7 p.m. Friday when the Lambkins play their biggest rival in Fossil Ridge.
He might not have experienced the rivalry before, but it doesn’t take long to learn from teammates what the battle for the Harmony Cup means.
“They’ve said it’s a super important game,” Erickson said with a laugh. “I guess I’ve built the hatred, too, even though I don’t have any feelings against them. We’ve beat them most years, so I’ve got to carry on the tradition.”
Follow sports reporter Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle and at facebook.com/KevinSLytle.
Coach: Eric Rice
2015 season: 7-4, conference champions, lost in first round of 4A playoffs
Outlook: The Lambkins graduated 22 players from last year’s conference title team. In that group was quarterback Jacob Moyer, all ball carriers who saw significant time, top two receivers, leading tackler and its top two in interceptions. The Lambkins return a talented tight end in Jake Leone, a strong defensive back in Michael Kadlick, versatile athlete Cory Lange and add transfer quarterback Jonathan Erickson.