John Haberman started the 2004 football season as the Brainerd Warriors' No. 2 or 3 quarterback.
By the end of the season he was a defensive back.
"Last year during two-a-days, and at the beginning of the season, I had trouble reading plays, option plays," Haberman said. "I put the ball on the ground more than I normally would, and it cost me. They switched me to defense halfway through the year.
"My focus this year was to improve my reads, and hold on to the ball, not put it on the ground."
Haberman stayed above ground this fall. He completed 55 of 106 passes (52 percent) for 877 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also rushed 127 times for 795 yards (6.3) and scored 12 TDs.
In the last two playoff games he rushed and passed for 100 yards. He finished with three 100-yard rushing games and four 100-yard passing games.
"Mostly, what created our run at the end of the year, was that our offensive line picked up their game," Haberman said. "When you can run so much the defense has to respect that, and that opens up the passing game."
Warriors coach Ron Stolski said before the season he thought Haberman had a chance to be a "scintillating" player. As he matured, Stolski said that's what he became.
"John truly loves football, he wants to be an outstanding player, so he took to coaching," Stolski said. "It took a while, but I'm sure he would admit that."
Stolski said Haberman's attributes included "excellent skills and great feet."
"But what's often overlooked is his toughness, he had great physical and mental toughness," Stolski said. "A lot is asked of athletes, in particular we ask a lot of quarterbacks, in our system. It's not just drop back and hand off. When you handle the ball as often as he did, whether it was handing off, keeping or throwing, John displayed physical and mental toughness.
Weight: 185 pounds
Other sports: Basketball, track and field
Memorable sports achievement: All-conference in track in 2005, playing in 2004 state football playoffs
Grade-point average: 3.85
Favorite subject: History
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite movie: "Goodwill Hunting"
Hobbies: Playing sports
Future plans: Hopes to play football in college, major in pre-law
Athlete he admires: John Elway
Parents: Bruce and Lisa Haberman
"John is a good, bright kid who saw and understood. Those two things, combined, allowed him to stay with it. That allowed his game to sharpen. Certainly, he's an outstanding quarterback and became an impact player. I will guarantee that other teams had more headaches preparing for us than we did preparing for them. A two- or three-dimensional quarterback like John created myriad problems for the opponent."
Haberman said a meeting he had with Stolski at midseason, after a team dinner, helped him turn things around.
"Coach told me a story about when he was a senior in college, his coach sat him down and told him he didn't think he was performing up to his ability," Haberman said, "and that's what he thought with me. He said, This is what we need of you, not what we want, for us to be successful.'"
Haberman succeeded after attending camps in Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa last summer.
"I've been to a lot of camps but Purdue was probably the best," Haberman said. "There were like 100 quarterbacks from around the country there, and they dialed in on you. It was so focused, so oriented to you. I came back and changed a bunch of things, like my throwing motion, and my footwork."
Other notable efforts:
Justin Tyner, Hannah McAllister and Megan Holmes, cross country, qualified for the state meet as individuals.
Jessica Reese, swimming, won the conference breaststroke title.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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