Dolores sophomore Forest Pejsa is turning heads again.
The sophomore linebacker already had the attention of football fans and coaches in the Southern Peaks League and was named second team all-conference last year and first team after the 2016 season.
But more recently, Pejsa was recognized for his outstanding play with a nomination to the Class 1A Colorado All-State Second Team.
After recording 41 solo tackles and 78 assisted for a total of 119 tackles in his freshman season, Pejsa upped his game this year and finished second in the entire state among all classifications with 165 total tackles in just nine games – 110 of which were solos.
He also broke the Dolores school record for tackles in a season, previously set by Lane Gallaher in 2007 with 162. And the only player in Colorado with more tackles in 2016 than Pejsa was Chase Rule, of Meeker, who finished with 168, but played in 13 contests.
“His freshman year as a middle linebacker was a year learning how to read, react, fill a gap and make the play,” Dolores head coach Chris Trusler said following the announcement. “Last year we wanted him to be all over the field and involved in every tackle. And he did a great job of that, but he had a lot more assisted tackles last year.”
“This year, our goal for him was instead of making a tackle after the guy’s made a two-yard gain, lets hit him at the line of scrimmage instead,” he continued. “And he doubled his solo tackles.”
Trusler said the goal for next season is for Pejsa to make his reads and react even quicker and make more tackles behind the line of scrimmage. And with the work Pejsa puts in during the offseason – which is what Trusler pointed to as the key to his success – he believes it’s obtainable.”
“He works out and trains to get better, not just when he has to and when he’s expected to show up, but he does it on his own and does extra,” Trusler explained. “And to be a standout student-athlete, that’s what you’ve got to do. We tell kids that hard work in the offseason pays off, and Forest is a true example of that. He has done everything that we have asked and he has shined on the field because of that.”
Pejsa’s shine hasn’t just caught the eyes of high school coaches.
After the season, he was invited to visit Colorado State University’s campus and attend the Rams’ final home game of the season.
“It’s on his list and Colorado State invited me to bring him up there to come and see a game,” said Trusler. “He had sideline access during pregame and front row seats, and he did a tour of the campus as well. It was a good experience for him.”