By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
SOLON – Prior to this fall Coal Flansburg and Adam Bock had never started a varsity football game and could claim just a handful of mop-up snaps as their only experience.
Even with a lack of game experience at the varsity level long-time Solon coach Kevin Miller had seen more than enough of Flansburg and Bock to have a good feeling about the junior linebackers.
Just two games into their first season as full-time starters Bock and Flansburg are showing the rest of the state what Miller and the rest of the Solon coaching staff already knew - these guys can play.
“Coming into the season we knew they had some of the physical attributes,” Miller said. “I just had a sense that they were going to have a good year and they had good years at the sophomore level last year.”
Bock and Flansburg have combined for 18 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery in two games as the starting inside linebackers for the Spartans.
The duo has helped Class 3A top-ranked Spartans open the year with back-to-back shutouts of ranked rivals Mount Vernon (19-0) and Regina (33-0).
“Coming into the season people hadn’t seen me and Coal really,” Bock said. “We are getting our chance and we are going to prove why we belong here.”
Both Bock and Flansburg had to wait their turn for a chance to make plays on Friday nights.
Solon had a strong pair of inside linebackers last season in departed seniors Bo Black and Trevor Nelson, who posted a team-high 48 tackles last season.
As sophomores last fall, Flansburg and Bock learned everything they could from Nelson and Black while getting the occasional late-game series.
The knowledge and experience have paid off this year.
“They definitely were mentors for us and were really good people to look up to,” Flansburg said. “I think everybody thought we were losing a lot of really good guys and I think we proved that we could replace them and we have some really good guys.”
If you make a list of desirable attributes for a linebacker chances are Flansburg and Bock check all the boxes.
They’ve got the size.
Flansburg is 6-foot-1, 225-pounds while Bock is 6-foot-1 and 210-pounds.
They both run well, they are physical and perhaps most importantly they are tough.
“They are almost the size of college linebackers and they run well, they are good athletes for their size,” Miller said. “They are downhill linebackers, they like the physical contact and they pursue the football and they run sideline to sideline and to me those are important attributes in a linebacker.”
Neither wasted any time showing they were up to the task of varsity football.
Flansburg picked off a pass on the first play of the season against Mount Vernon and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.
Bock made a team-high nine tackles in his first varsity start and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown.
The play of Bock and Flansburg have helped Solon limit its first two opponents to 185 yards of total offense per game.
“We have a core group of guys that all trust each other and we thought we could be great on defense,” Bock said. “I think that has showed the last two games.”
The duo was perhaps even better last week in a shutout of previously top-ranked Regina.
Both had interceptions against the Regals with Bock taking his back 32 yards for a score.
Flansburg and Bock combined for 6.5 tackles and 31 total yards of offense and a touchdown as running backs.
“I don’t know if I thought we would start this good but I knew we were going to be good,” Flansburg said. “We were confident coming in.”
Just two games into their full-time varsity careers both Bock and Flansburg are turning heads of fans and opposing coaches.
“The linebacker (Flansburg) is the guy that just killed us,” Cook said after Friday’s game. “We couldn’t get to him.”