When Ziggy Holloway first started sparking interest in summer camp, he thought of his travel-ball 7-on-7 team and quarterback KJ Jackson.
Holloway played on a run-oriented offense at Tallassee, while KJ Jackson was enjoying a record-breaking season at St. James.
“He wanted me to come over and try it for the team,” Holloway recalled, “and that just happened.”
Months later, Jackson is still setting records as a quarterback for the Trojans, but Holloway has found a niche as well, establishing himself as a lockdown cornerback and big-play receiver for St. James this season.
“At 7-on-7, he had gotten some looks (from college recruiters) and was recruited as a receiver,” St. James defense coordinator Jeff Corley said. “At Tallassee, (coach) Mike Battles runs a lot of Notre Dame Box where they mostly run the ball. He wanted to show off his skills as a receiver. He had also played a corner in the 7v7 and we needed another defender who was faster, bigger and longer.”
Holloway quickly established himself as one of the biggest playmakers in the Capital City Conference. On offense, he has 645 yards on 25 receptions, averaging 25.8 yards per catch, along with a school record 13 touchdowns, tying the school’s one-season record (also held by teammate Ethan Beard). Holloway has at least one touchdown catch in every game but one this season.
Defensively, he mentioned as one of the Capital City Conference’s best defenders a group that includes Georgia Tech’s LJ Green at Catholic and Kentucky’s Avery Stuart at Alabama Christian.
“I tell all the college guys he’s Kool-Aid McKinstry Jr.,” St. James coach Jimmy Perry said, referring to the University of Alabama cornerback. “I coached the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game when Kool-Aid was there and I got to watch him move on the field. (Holloways) body type is very similar to Kool-Aid. And Kool-Aid was a great kid, one of the favorites on that Alabama-Mississippi team. And (Holloway) is a great kid and one of the favorites here.”
Holloway wasn’t sure what to expect when he showed up at St. James in June, the day before summer training began. He probably thought he was going to play receiver but insists he has arrived in the summer and is ready to play wherever he is needed.
“I had played both sides equally (at Tallassee), receiver and corner, but I never really played a lot of corners my sophomore year,” Holloway said. “I just came to help the team wherever I could, wherever they needed me to play. Coming here from Tallassee is a big change, but I’m getting used to it quite a bit.”
He caught a touchdown pass in his first, second, and third games, making him the perfect complement to Beard on the other side of the field. And with Beard and Clint Houser as Trojan cornerbacks, Holloway’s arrival has bolstered the Trojans’ defense, allowing Beard to escape to safety and serve as a rover while Holloway is placed on the opposing team’s highest receiver.
“I knew Ethan was the lead receiver when I first got here, but I knew I had to play a role in order to step up and help him,” Holloway said. “I feel like I click with Ethan more than any other teammate I have here. We always compete. It’s a competitive thing because we love the game.”
Just as Holloway is in uncharted waters as the team’s record receiver, so are his teammates after reaching the semifinals for the first time in school history. St James (11-2) are a game away from a trip to the Super 7, but standing in the way are Mobile Christian (6-7), a team with a deceptive record after losing four games for action earlier this year had an ineligible player.
“In the first three games of the playoffs, we’re dealing with teams that are mostly running,” Perry said. “This group is very balanced. That will present us with very different circumstances to deal with. They are a good, solid football team. It will be a fun challenge for us.”
Holloway said the destination remains the same and the Trojans have all the ingredients for a trip to Auburn next week.
“We just have to play how we play,” he said. “We have to control what we can control, do what we do and come out and play like we’ve played all year.”