Going up against the two-time defending state champions, Jake was called into the game at quarterback, a position he had never played before. A natural linebacker, Jake called the plays that day and from then on for his school.
But that night in the huddle, his brother, who was named a three-time all-division tight end, turned to Jake and told it to him straight.
"You are going to be one hell of a football player," he said.
And that's where the story of Jake Flaherty begins.
The details of that night aren't as important as that moment in the huddle. South Kingstown lost badly. But, on that night, Jake Flaherty marked his name in the sand, and did so with his family behind him.
Since then,Flaherty has accomplished many things on and off the field. He has taken after his mom, Jo Ellen Golberg, and her love for singing. He sings in an a cappella group, and has even performed The National Anthem before one of his own football games.
And, in addition to football, Flaherty has found success in track and field. He is a two-time defending state high jump champion, with a 4.54 second 40-yard dash, and a 36-inch vertical leap.
All that athletic ability has translated well onto the football field. His father, Todd, and his coach, Bruce Tardif, described Flaherty as an aggressive player with a nose for the ball.
"He always had a knack for making the big play," Tardif said.
His father recalled a moment of Flaherty's big play capabilities in that same freshman year on varsity. The opposing running back was having his way with South Kingstown's defense. Tardif had seen enough from his senior linebacker, so he put in a junior linebacker to key on the back. When he couldn't get the job done, Tardif sent in a sophomore linebacker. He was unsuccessful. So, finally, Tardif put Flaherty in to see what he can do. Three straight plays, three straight tackles for Flaherty.
"He's extremely athletic, and always in attack mode,"Tardif said.
That attack mode may have been something Flaherty learned from his dad. As it turns out, Todd Flaherty wasn't all that bad of a football player himself. Growing up in Dewitt at Jamesville-Dewitt High School, Todd earned a scholarship to play football at Syracuse University. He played under legendary coach Ben Schwartzwalder from 1966-1970. Like his son, he primarily played linebacker.
More on this article can be found in this month's issue of The Juice.
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