Written by Ryan Wright
The look of Totino-Grace High School is one that is a half-step away from having an unforgettable season. The Eagles posted a 7-3 run in 2019, just nine points away from an undefeated regular season. The person ready to take his team to the next level is three-star Class of 2021 quarterback Kristoff Kowalkowski.
Kowalkowski did everything in the pocket an offensive coordinator could ask from running multiple fronts spanning the Spread and Wing-T to sticking in the pocket taking the big hit to deliver a strike downfield. The 6-3, 210-pound, quarterback completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,750 yards with 12 touchdowns adding a rushing score to the resume.
After earning All-District honors and 6A Minnesota All-State honorable mention, college football programs came calling. Kowalkowski has received four offers coming from Central Michigan, Columbia, Cornell, and Florida Atlantic with interest growing for the 3.9 cumulative GPA student-athlete. With his fifth season of varsity ball coming up, the pinnacle of Kowalkowski’s high school career begins this fall with college scouts watching.
In a detailed RNG Q&A interview partnered with QB Hit List, Kowalkowski covers ground on his abilities running the Eagles’ multifaceted offense with an offseason update on his recruiting and spring workouts.
Kristoff, watching game footage of you and the Eagles last season, it looks like the offense was coming at 6A Minnesota defenses in a variety of ways and in different formations. If you will, describe the style of offense you guys were executing and some of the formations within.
“Our orientation on offense was to spread them out and pound them inside. We had a lot of returning experience last season. At times we go out four wide or line up in a power set and go up the middle. We had some great athletes on the team, we could toy with defenses.”
From a Spread to a Wing-T and some 11 personnel, how did you prepare each week for the intricacies within the offense so the team could perform at a high level?
“Each week came in with a different game plan. We’d go on Hudl to see their key players and go over their tendencies and then we would go over our offense with our coach and how we will attack their defense. We did a lot of strategy, if we do this, how will they attack us or if we attack here, how can we pick them apart?”
What were some of the routes your receivers were running last year?
“They were running a wide variety of routes. In the quick game, hitches, slants, digs and on the longer routes, comebacks, outs, and bang eights; we were across the whole spectrum with our routes.”
When you dropped back, what coverages were you throwing against?
“It shifted throughout the year. During my sophomore year we ran a lot out of the Wing-T and Power I with only one or two receivers. Last season, we’d see Cover 3 towards the end keeping everything in front of the defense and some Cover 1/man. With the pro-style offense, we were able to adjust to the needs of the team.”
How did your game as a passing QB improve within the scheme in 2019?
“I became more confident and my understanding of defenses improved. This season will be my fifth year on varsity, all that experience helps knowing schemes, patterns, and so on.”
Same question but slightly different, how did your understanding of the game improve a year ago?
“My understanding improved by working with my coaches, learning coverages, tendencies, and understanding why things work the way they do – when to sit down on a route or extend it, that kind of stuff. I became more well-rounded in my understanding of the game.”
Is there an area of your game that might get overlooked because it does not show up on the stat sheet?
“What I am planning on doing this season is using my athletic abilities more. We did not have many designed runs for me last season and we did a lot of one or two read routes. This season I will show more of my athletic ability, things I have not been able to do in the past unless I showed it at a camp. I am ready to show my speed this season.”
Heading into your senior season, what have you been working on this spring so you can tear it up this fall?
“First and foremost, I have been hunkering down with my knowledge of the game. That is something I can always improve on. I have been working on my timing with my receivers. We have tried to not lose any time with the virus so we can have another big season this year.”
Which programs are showing interest as we get closer to the 2020 season?
“South Dakota State, UNI, Princeton, and Pennsylvania.”
How many offers are on the table?
Over the last several months, predating the dead period, did you get to take any visits?
“Back to the end of the 2019 season, I went to Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Northern Iowa and in 2020 I went to North Dakota State and South Dakota.”
Last question. What are your 2020 season goals?
“Overall, I want to continue working on becoming more well-rounded and use football to leverage with my athletic ability and my future. I want to keep working with my teammates on improving as a team and I want to improve my knowledge of the game and my footwork. As a team, I want us to be undefeated and win a state championship.”
Kristoff, thanks for your time today and good luck with your workouts this summer.
Photo credit: Totino-Grace HS/ Kowalkowski family; Kristoff Kowalkowski