Summerville Bears senior Erik Wold is expected to miss Friday night’s homecoming football game against Denair.
The inside linebacker and offensive guard was injured, the first of his career, in the second quarter of Week 2’s 49-42 loss to the Bradshaw Christian Pride in Sacramento.
Wold sat out the entire second half and was relegated to the bench for the remainder of the game. Coaches and players said the emotional and fiery team captain will be missed.
“He’s huge,” said Bears linebacker coach Matt Soto. “Our confidence with Erik — he just brings it, he knows who’s who and what to do. He gives confidence to our other linebackers. He’s a leading tackler on defense. Losing him is crucial to the run, dive, passing. I mean he’s all over the place, but losing him this week, we gotta gear up.”
“It’s a bummer,” Bears co-captain and defensive end Ross Whalen said. “He’s a big part of our team. He’s very good at what he does. Linebacker, itself, is the core of the defense and he’s the best linebacker that we have. He’s a critical part of our defense.”
Bears head coach Ben Watson called the loss of Wold big.
“He’s a two-way starter at guard and he’s just a real go-getter at linebacker, so that’s huge,” Watson said. “It’s tough, but we’ll play with the guys that are here.”
Sophomore Tristan Hudson is projected to start at guard for Wold on offense.
Replacing Wold at linebacker will be 5-foot-5, 150 pound junior Humphrey Quirie, a player on the rise. Quirie made his first start against Mother Lode League power Argonaut as a sophomore in 2012 when he was pulled up to the varsity squad midway through that season. This will mark Quirie’s second career varsity start.
Quirie knows he won’t be able to bring that same type of knowledge and experience that Wold has at linebacker, but he understands the opportunity in front of him.
“I feel confident that I can fill in for him until he returns,” Quirie said. “When I’m out there, I just go for it. I don’t feel anything else, I’m just zoned into the game and getting everybody pumped up. It’s just what I do. I’ve got a lot of energy, and I like to release that energy.”
Quirie pointed out that while Wold’s leadership and presence will be missed, it’s the passion that Wold brings on Fridays that makes him the glue to the team.
“He brings heart,” Quirie said. “Erik has the most heart here out of everyone.”
For Watson, it’s the consistent effort that Wold delivers in practice everyday and games that makes him a special player.
“He brings a good, solid honesty to the hit,” Watson said. “He plays to the whistle. He’s a leader by example. They see how hard he plays. They see how hard he hits. It brings everybody up around him.”
Partnering with Quirie at the other inside linebacker position is starter Nathaniel Ulvevadet. Ulvevadet, a promising sophomore, has shown flashes of outstanding play despite having just two varsity starts under his belt. Together, the young duo is a pair that Soto feels can make an impact against Denair.
“I do feel comfortable with both of them,” Soto said. “Nathaniel is Erik’s partner — our starting linebackers. We kind of know that he’s almost the same as Erik, still can find the ball, still can make great tackles, great plays. I don’t think we’re going to lose a step missing Erik.”
Since impressing coaches in the summer with his incredible work ethic in the weight room, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Ulvevadet has evolved his role on the team into a prominent one. On defense, he is a mainstay at linebacker and is one of the team’s leading tacklers. Offensively, he serves as the Bear’s short-yardage and power back. In their second loss of the season last Friday, Ulvevadet scored near the goal line for his first career touchdown. He also recorded a sack.
With Ulvevadet in good position to pick up the slack with Wold sidelined, the sophomore is confident heading into Friday’s clash. Denair has scored just 21 points in two weeks and was shutout by Hughson last week.
“I look up to Erik a lot,” Ulvevadet. “He’s a really good friend. I’ve known him for a very long time. I feel that I have learned enough from him that I can carry the team.”
The Union Democrat is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Tuesday through Saturday. E-Edition or Print Plus subscribers have full access.
If you are not a current subscriber, subscribe today for immediate access. Circulation: 209-533-3614
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties