The Mauler


Mauler. Definition: a fighter who batters the opponent, part of speech: noun, example: Vikings.

A mauler is someone who fights and battles until the bitter end and is feared by the enemy for their utter ferociousness.

While others’ minds may go to Vikings or barbarians when they hear the word, where their thoughts should go is to Senior Football Player Jacob Harkins.

Head Football Coach Sam Jacobs said, “He was a legal bully which is what you want in an offensive lineman.”

Harkins has lived up to the Jacobs-appointed nickname “The Mauler” and has shined tremendously in his 3 years as a starting varsity football player.  

“He’s got a workman’s mentality where he doesn’t take anything for granted,” said Jacobs, “He understands where he’s at and he pushes himself over and over again to get better each time.”

Working hard every day is something Harkins acknowledges in himself; however, he also knows it might not have always been so evident.

Harkins said the biggest thing that has changed from freshman year is “My work ethic and how hard I’ve been working.”

This work ethic is a quality that has made Harkins an incredible football player and he is a big reason Sunnyslope Quarterback Luke Moga feels comfortable in the backfield.

Moga said, “It’s a comforting feeling knowing that he is blocking my blind side, and if I have to trust my lineman that they’re gonna block it’s comforting feeling again for me knowing that he got the area that I can’t see.”

Moga recognizes the duty that Harkins has to perform almost every play and he agrees with Jacobs on how Harkins has gotten to the level he is at today.

“I would say it’s his drive, work ethic, and his understanding of the game,” Moga said, “He has a really good understanding of what it takes and he’s done a really good job with that.”

Harkins, though, has had a unique and special experience with Sunnyslope football as he has not only turned into a great football player but has done so in the company of people he’s known for years.

A rather large handful of Harkins teammates were friends with him before high school where he said that the relationships have just grown and he knows how to communicate better with them.

He has had 4 years to continue to grind away on hot summer days and to fight for glory on brisk Friday nights, so it’s not surprising when they see a change in him as well.

“Freshman year he weighed less than I did and now he is 270 [LBS] lifts way more weight than he did, is way more technical, and everything about his game is a lot better,” said Football Player Jacob Jenners.

Harkins and Jenners have been since middle school and beyond and went from arm wrestling each other in class to now being side by side under the lights.

The duo has started side by side for 3 years now and Jenners said, “If we’re winning by a lot he can be a little bit of a troll, but most of the time he’s focused and we get on the sideline and he’s your friend but when we get on the field it’s completely different and he just flips a switch.”

Flipping that switch may be one of the most interesting characteristics of Harkins because in many ways you would rather call him “The Golden Retriever” rather than “The Mauler”.

“He is a goofball,” said Jenners, “I would describe him as someone who makes a lot of cringy jokes”

Unfortunately, Harkins had to tone this side of him down a little bit perhaps as it was his first year being a captain and official leader of the team. 

“Jacob is definitely more of a lead by example than with being vocal,” Jacobs said, “He was vocal when he needed to be but he was always the guy setting the tone and pace for what was going on.”

Being a leader was not something that Harkins stumbled over on, in fact, it only exemplified his hard work and skill.

Moga said, “It was super cool to walk out with him every game and I could kind of see the fear in the other team’s eyes when he was walking right next to me.”

But, alas, Harkins will never play another snap of football at Sunnyslope High School, but what is sure is that his journey through football is not quite over as earlier this year he committed to Northern Arizona University.

While we can only look forward to watching Harkins play in college for the foreseeable future we can still look back at his dominance the past 4 years.

Jacobs said, “A great memory that pops into my head was the Dobson game where he took the defensive end and literally drove him out to the track.”

So, as Harkins might cringely say, “Enough said.”

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