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From 8-man ball to the prestigious Les Schwab Bowl and then George Fox — football is about to get ‘real’ for Waldport graduate Zak Holsey

“These guys are pushing me to get better, and, hopefully, I’m pushing them to get better.”
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By Dan Brood 

Zak Holsey is certainly used to playing football. 

After all, the 2022 Waldport High School graduate has been a four-year starter on the gridiron for the Irish.

Holsey is also used to success, having helped lead Waldport to a berth in the quarterfinal round of the Class 1A state playoffs this past fall. 

Holsey, though, definitely isn’t used to having 21 other players on the field with him at the same time.

Holsey, who shined for Waldport, which plays 8-man football, will have to adjust to the 11-man game in a hurry, as he’ll be playing for Team Columbia at the 2022 Les Schwab Bowl, a high school football all-star game which will be played Saturday at Linfield University in McMinnville. 

“It’s definitely a change. It’s fun to see,” Holsey said following the team’s early practice Tuesday. “Everyone out here is a great athlete. It’s good to play against this level of competition.”

The level of competition Holsey played with, and against, at Waldport might have been different, but it certainly wasn’t boring. The Irish scored an average of 52.8 points per game last fall while going 8-2.

“They call it the wild, wild west, for sure,” Holsey said with a laugh. “There’s way more room. Everything seems so condensed out here. For me, it’s good to have this opportunity to push myself. These guys are pushing me to get better, and, hopefully, I’m pushing them to get better.”

Zak Holsey Waldport Les Schwab Bowl 2022 Dan Brood 1

The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Holsey played quarterback for Waldport.

“I played quarterback at my school and, for me, to see these quarterbacks out here really puts things into perspective,” Holsey said. “But I love it. I love competition. I want to get out here and prove myself.”

The athletic Holsey, who was a four-sport star at Waldport — playing basketball and golf as well as running track and field (he placed second this spring in the long jump at the Class 2A state meet) — looks to be up to any challenge.

“I think they’re going to stick me at cornerback. We’ll see how it goes,” he said of Saturday’s game. “My conditioning is where it’s at, but I have to get used to these faster receivers.”

This fall, Holsey will be playing football at George Fox University in Newberg, where, of course, there will once again be 11 players on the field for each team. Thanks to the opportunity to play in the Les Schwab Bowl, Holsey should be more prepared for that.

“This will really help me,” he said. “That’s why I’m so thankful for this. It gives me a taste of 11-man.”

This year’s Les Schwab Bowl, presented by Express Employment Professionals, and serving as a fundraiser for various youth charities, includes many of the top players from around the state, including underclassmen, as well as a player from southwest Washington. This is the 74th game in the series, but the first that won’t be North vs. South. Instead, players were drafted by Team Columbia head coach Steve Pyne, who led Central Catholic to the 2021 Class 6A state championship, and Team Willamette head coach Dan Lever, who guided Tualatin to the Class 6A title tilt.

Saturday’s event begins with tailgating at 2 p.m., featuring Golden Valley Brewing, Stoller Family Wine and more. Gates open at 4 p.m., with kickoff slated for 6 p.m.

Tickets for the game can be purchased online, at The game also can be streamed online, at a cost of $10, at

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