It takes someone special to come in as a freshman and make an immediate impact on the field of competition, and no freshman did that more than Durango’s Jordan Woolverton.
Woolverton took over the starting quarterback job during the second half of the football season and helped the Demons to the second round of the state playoffs. He saw time off the bench for the varsity basketball team and also played a key piece in the Durango baseball team’s run to the playoffs, all of which led to the standout freshman being named The Durango Herald’s Freshman of the Year for boys athletics.
“Coming into my freshman year, I had high expectations, but I didn’t really expect this much out of it,” Woolverton said. “I thought it was a great start for me. Going forward, it’s a really big confidence booster, and I’m excited for these next couple of years.”
Woolverton, the son of Ryan and Kathleen Woolverton, broke onto the prep sports scene during the football season. After serving as the backup quarterback for the Demons and getting some playing time at wide receiver through the first five games, the freshman was inserted at QB for the second half against Pueblo East, the three-time defending Class 3A state champions. Against the Eagles, Woolverton threw for 262 yards on 22-of-28 passing, and his freshman year took off from there.
“The one word that comes to mind is ‘composure,’” DHS football coach David Vogt said of Woolverton. “The kid is just so composed and nothing seems to freak him out. Being on that stage (against Pueblo East), he still was able to play relaxed. That’s one thing that really seems to help him out – his ability to stay relaxed and compete.”
Woolverton started five of the next six games, including the Demons’ two playoff games – a road win against Cañon City and a narrow loss to state runner-up Erie at home. He missed one game in late October with a hand injury. On the season, he was 85-for-117 for 1,024 yards and 10 touchdowns against one interception with a quarterback rating of 124. He also had five receptions for 44 yards as a receiver.
Woolverton’s completion percentage of 72.6 was the best in 3A for players with a minimum of 50 pass attempts during the season. In all classifications, only Valor Christian’s Luke McCaffrey had a better completion percentage, as the junior went 54-for-71 passing for a completion percentage of 76.1. McCaffrey is the son of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey and the younger brother of Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey.
In 3A, there were only five other players with a completion percentage of 60 or better after at least 50 pass attempts, and none of them cracked 68 percent.
While he was brilliant at QB, Woolverton said the time he spent as a backup and receiver helped him adjust to the high school game.
“I thought it was awesome that I got that time to adjust to the game speed,” he said. “There’s obviously a big change in the game speed.
“I couldn’t control what happened, but I think it was cool to play receiver for a bit. I enjoyed it and I’m glad (the coaches) gave me that opportunity to get out there as a freshman, even though it wasn’t as quarterback. It helped me understand how receivers need to run through defenses and it made me look at defenses from a different perspective, and I think that helped me. Taking that into my quarterback game, it really helped me see and understand what the defense is trying to do.”
After the football season, Woolverton saw limited time on the boys varsity basketball team. As he was getting ready to turn his attention to baseball in the spring, he suffered a broken left forearm that forced him to miss the first nine games of the baseball season. It was another lesson in patience for the budding star and taught him more about being a leader.
“I was definitely trying to support my team more and be a leader,” Woolverton said. “It helped show me I can help my team even though I’m not out there on the field with them.”
He made his way back for the second half of the season and played in 11 games, where he hit .278 with one double, one triple, five runs batted in and eight runs scored.
With the standout freshman season behind him, Woolverton can only look to the future, and he hopes that somewhere along the way there’s a state football title in the Demons’ possession.
“We know we can go up there and play with those bigger teams,” he said. “We want to be that state championship team, and I’m excited to see what we can do.”
Editor’s note: The Durango Herald selected high school sports players of the year based on a unanimous decision between sports editor John Livingston and sports writer Karl Schneider. Increased consideration was given to multi-sport athletes who showed leadership in their firstname.lastname@example.org