CHATHAM, NJ - After playing one of the best games of his Chatham High football career, senior defensive end Jeremy Pollard had one of his CHS teachers quoting him in school. Following the win, Pollard had touted his ability to "ball out" during the game.
"To me, 'ball out' means working as a team and everyone doing their job," Pollard said. "If everyone does their job, you're going to be successful. One of my teachers told me to 'ball out' on my homework."
Pollard certainly did his job in last Friday's game at Hackettstown, collecting nine tackles, including three for lost yardage, in Chatham's 42-14 win.
Jeremy Pollard is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
Pollard's performance was especially significant with senior tackle Jorge Fuentes out of action. Chatham needed someone to step up against Hackettstown and its ground game, led by quarterback Nick Gagliardi.
The week before facing the Cougars, Gagliardi had rushed for 240 yards and five touchdowns against Hanover Park. Pollard was assigned to target Gagliardi and answered the call.
"Their quarterback runs a triple option and there is a lot of misdirection," Dan Moskowitz, Chatham line coach, said. "Jeremy had a tremendous game. Jeremy stayed focused on the quarterback. He had four tackles for a loss and did a good job of pursuing on the plays they ran away from him.
"Jeremy has been a great team leader, showing up every day with a great attitude and big energy. He sets a great example. He really only plays defense but he is the first to step up and give our offense and special teams a good look on the scout team."
Pollard broke a bone in his thumb in the second game of the season, but only missed one game before returning to the lineup, where he has averaged more than five tackles a game.
"He's a light-hearted kid and very personable," Dan Czepiga, Chatham head coach, said. "Everyone likes to be around him. He enjoys the game a lot. He wants to continue playing after his senior year. Performances like that are going to help."
After the win at Hackettstown, Pollard made sure to thank his "Mama", Simone Pollard, who he credits for supporting him during his early days playing the game.
"She raised me and kept me from quitting football when I first started playing," the 17-year-old said. "After some of those tough practices, I thought about playing something else, but she just told me to relax and it would get better.
"When I was a kid, I always wanted to hit someone and put on pads. Football reminds me of where I came from and it's why I love football so much. I come from a football family. I tried lacrosse, wrestling and basketball, but I never had the same connection as I have for football."
Pollard's father, Joe, was a linebacker during his day and his two older brothers, Joshua and Joseph, both played football for Chatham High. Joseph was on the 2012 team and Joshua was a member of the 2015 Cougar team that went 9-3 and reached the state sectional final. Both older brothers were offensive linemen.
Pollard and fellow defensive linemen - Tamer Farid, Lucas Reasons, Will Duff and Jorge Fuentes - spend a lot of time together off the field, too, watching football on Sundays and also game film for upcoming opponents.
"I have only one saying and it's 'ball out', and that's what I've been saying all year," Pollard said. "I learned from my older brothers to never give up. Giving up is a weak move. Coach Mosk helped me improve my technique with better footwork, getting off the ball quicker and getting my hands up.
"I love the guys on the team so much. I'll never forget the experience of playing Chatham football."
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.