By Gideon Rubin
Jake Posnock and Adam Sloane went into their junior seasons at San Diego Jewish Academy with what they figured to be clearly defined roles.
The athletic and powerful Posnock was expected to be an impact player on both sides of the ball.
Sloane was expected to be a key target for Micah Weinstein, the school’s all-time passing leader.
Injuries turned those plans on their heads.
Posnock could no longer suit up after a shoulder injury he suffered playing baseball flared up. Sloane was diagnosed with a stress fracture on his ankle that limited his mobility.
Both players refused to shrink from commitments to their teammates though, doing whatever they could to contribute.
Posnock didn’t play a down all year, but showed up for every game and every practice. “He went to every game and every practice and he was still the heart and soul of that team,” SDJA coach Joseph Gurfinkiel said.
Sloane went from running deep routes to toughing it out in the trenches, playing offensive line positions skilled position players are rarely willing or able to even consider.
“You have to be there for your team,” Posnock said, summing up why he and Sloane remained invested in the team despite their setbacks. “You made a commitment when you signed that contract at the beginning off the year.”
Both players honored that contract through circumstances that weren’t easy for anybody, as the Lions continued to experience growing pains transitioning from 8-man football to the 11-man game in the tough Pacific League. SDJA went 0-7 last year.
“We had a tough year last year but we had to keep working and trying to get better to finish the season strong and prepare for next year,” Sloane said. “We were trying to lead with our actions. I think we set a good precedent.”
Posnock and Sloane, who’ll be seniors this fall, return healthy, and with the respect of their teammates who witnessed their unselfishness.
Both are tremendous talents who could have the opportunity to play at four-year schools, Gurfinkiel said.
Posnock, a 6-foot-1 200-pounder, is among the best athletes Gurfinkiel has seen at the school.
He’s impressed the team’s new offensive coordinator, Stephen Peccolla, who comes to SDJA from Westview.
Gurfinkiel said Peccolla told him that Posnock “might be the only (SDJA) guy who could start at Westview.”
Sloane made a seamless transition to playing on the team’s offensive line. He eventually played left guard, blocking the quarterback’s blind side – an especially important role on an SDJA team that runs a pass-oriented spread offense.
“When we put him on the offensive line we thought he’d have a tough time but he just came in and started dominating right away,” Gurfinkiel said.
Sloane downplayed the transition, noting that as a wide receiver and tight end he had blocking assignments, and that at 6-3 and weighing 225 pounds, he’s among the biggest players in the small-school Division V.
“I actually enjoyed playing the offensive line position,” Sloane said. “Every snap you’re doing something. As a receiver you’re running a rout, but on the offensive line you’re involved in every play, whether it’s protecting the quarterback or opening up a hole for the running back.
“I like to think I’m pretty versatile so I was able to adapt pretty well.”
He adapted well enough to make the league’s all-league team as an honorable mention at offensive line.
Gurfinkiel noted that Sloane’s size, strength and speed figure to create matchup problems for opponents.
“He’s a guy that every team is going to have to be aware of,” he said. “Other teams are going to have to make plans to account for him wherever he lines up.”
Both players over the summer lined up at a Boston College summer camp, where they got to compete against aspiring college players from across the country – including some players considered Division I prospects.
Posnock and Sloane project to play Division III or Ivy League ball, Gurfinkiel said, noting both have 4.4 GPAs.
“I’ve been playing football for four years now and I want to take it as far as I can go,” Sloane said. “I think it would be a great accomplishment for me to play at a four-year school, but, most importantly, it’s a passion of mine and it’s something that I want to continue.”
Posnock, who’s been playing seven years, is a Division I long shot, Gurfinkiel said.
“Football is so much a part of my identity now,” Posnock said. “I think going to a Jewish school and being able to say that you’re on one of three Jewish football teams in the world outside of Israel is pretty cool.”
Posnock said he’s embraced his ambassadorship role.
“I feel that I’m a lot of people’s first contact with Judaism and I think that’s a cool thing to be able to say.”