As a junior last year, Queen Creek’s Skyler Bollman made a name for himself as an undersized, playmaking defensive end. He led the Bulldogs with nine sacks in 2013, averaged over eight tackles per game, and even recorded a couple of interceptions, returning one for a touchdown against Bradshaw Mountain.
Listed at 5’11” and an overstated 185 lbs., Bollman entered the 2014 season as one of the top defenders on a Bulldogs’ defensive unit looking to improve on last year’s performance. He even appeared on Episode 1 of Sports360AZ.com’s Daily Dozen as a player to watch this year.
Bollman has proven he was deserving of the preseason recognition, recording a sack and a tackle-for-loss in the opener versus Poston Butte a week ago. Just like last year, he is a key contributor on a defense that posted shutouts in its first two games this season.
He is making an equally impressive impact on the Bulldogs’ offense this year after not playing on that side of the ball last year. His 17 kick return yards were the only offensive contribution he made as a junior.
Queen Creek coaches became aware of Bollman’s potential as a wide receiver at the summer-ending 7-on-7 passing tournament. His performance there was surprising to some but not himself.
“There was an open spot and I wanted to take it,” Bollman answered when asked when he knew he’d be playing on offense this year.
“We saw some great things from him (at receiver) in the summer and thought we’d try it out,” Bulldogs’ head coach Travis Schureman said after last week’s game against Poston Butte. “He runs great routes and goes up and gets the ball.”
In his debut as a wide receiver last week, Bollman caught four passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. He averaged over 40 yards per reception, including three catches of 34 yards or more. Against Highland on Friday night he caught two passes for 46 yards, including a 21-yd touchdown reception. He also carried the ball twice, scoring on a perfectly executed 24-yard reverse in the first quarter.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to throw the ball because last year we didn’t throw the ball a lot,” Bollman said after Friday’s 35 – 0 win versus Highland. “This year has been pretty good (so far) and we’re continuing to work on it.”
The emergence of Bollman as a receiver gives Queen Creek quarterback Bryce Dobbs another option and prevents defenses from loading the box to stop preseason All-Arizona running back Weston Barlow. Opposing teams are now forced to honor the threat of the Bulldogs’ passing attack.
“We think if we can get Xavier (McGuire) on one side and Skyler on the other, it’s a great benefit for us,” Schureman said after Friday night’s game.
In addition to starting on offense and defense, Bollman is the leading punt returner for the Bulldogs. He admits playing so much takes its toll.
“It’s tough,” Bollman said. “I get tired fast, but I’ll stay in there. If I need a break, I’ll ask the coaches for a break. Everything else is fine. I just do my thing for my team and help my team out the best I can.”
Bollman is helping his team the “best” he can and any way he can.