WARSAW – Being a high school quarterback presents plenty of challenges.
Being a high school quarterback and also the son of the head coach adds to the challenges.
Warsaw’s Michael Jensen has handled those challenges quite well, thank you.
The Tiger signal caller heads into his senior season looking to lead his team to bigger and better things this fall on the gridiron.
“I’m excited for the season,” said Jensen earlier this week as practice opened for the 2016 campaign which begins on Aug. 19 at Columbia City. “We have a good connection and a lot of talent on this team. Our biggest key to success is to stay focused and be mentally tough this season.”
The younger Jensen has displayed plenty of mental toughness. His father, Phil, begins his 17th season as the WCHS coach. The elder Jensen, who played at power Penn High School and then at Butler University, is the definition of the word intensity when he is working the sidelines on a Friday night.
“It’s mostly good,” said the younger Jensen of playing for his father. “We talk a lot of football, but he can leave it on the field and just be my dad at home. He’s a completely different person off the field then the one that people just see on Friday nights.”
Jensen, who is also an integral member of the Tiger golf team, returned to the field last season after not playing as a sophomore. He took over the spread offense as the starter and threw for almost 2,200 yards and 17 touchdowns in directing an offense that averaged 22.6 points-per-contest. The Tigers finished 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the Northern Lakes Conference in 2015.
Jensen admitted that there were some bumps in the road a year ago as people questioned him.
“It was really fun being back on the field, but there were tough times, too,” Jensen related. “But I know the coaches have confidence in me. I was not given anything. I just tried to tune out the bad noise and listen to the people involved with the program.”
The younger Jensen also had quite the traumatic experience back in December when his father fell from a ladder at home and was severely injured.
“It was definitely a life-changing experience,” said Jensen, who called 911 after his father’s accident. “It really makes me appreciate him more. He’s always supported me.”
The elder Jensen, who is an attendance coordinator at WCHS, knows his son has a lot on his plate.
“There’s a whole different set of circumstances on Michael being my son,” said coach Jensen. “There’s always a different pressure on a student when they have a parent working in the school, too.
“I think that Michael is in a tough spot. I think that he was unfairly judged last year by some people. I expect the same things out of him that I expect out of all of our players. I expect them to follow our motto of “Son, Student, Athlete” and the expectations that come with that.”
“I’m very proud of how Michael has handled all of it.”
The younger Jensen is definitely looking forward to his final season wearing his No. 3 jersey for the orange and black.
“I have to be a leader this year and be the guy that others fall back on,” Jensen said. “I have to keep my cool and be confident.
“There’s no better feeling than getting to play for my dad under the Friday night lights.