homepage logo

DIVISION II FINALS: Souhegan QB Jain ahead of his time

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Nov 17, 2022

Souhegan sophomore quarterback Romy Jain looks downfield while back J.J. Bright stays in the backfield to protect against the rusn during last week' semifinal win over Gilferd-Belmont. (Courtesy photo by Kim Casey)

AMHERST – It’s all in the family.

A couple of years ago, eighth grader Romy Jain watched his older brother Austin, a senior, with a state championship as the quarterback of the Souhegan High School football team.

“With Austin, I’ve always looked up to him and everything he’s done, and always wanted to be as good as him,” Romy said. “Seeing him win the championship, I wanted to do that.

“After that, I wanted to feel that same feeling that he did and wanted to share that feeling with him.”

The younger Jain gets that opportunity this Saturday when the No. 4 Sabers take on No.2 Pelham for this year’s Division II state championship at Bedford.

They likely wouldn’t have that opportunity had it not been for the younger Jain, who as a sophomore is playing like a senior in head coach Robin Bowkett’s high octane offense. Jain has completed 99 of 150 attempts (68 percent) for 1,986 yards and 24 TDs, with just three interceptions.

Both have been students of the quarterback school of Trevor Knight, the former Nashua South and University of New Hampshire standout who played briefly in the Canadian Football League but has become perhaps the most notable quarterback guru in the region. Jain says what he’s learned, and continues to learn, has been invaluable.

“He saw my potential,” Jain said of Knight. “Every time we train, I could be getting better at something. Everytime he ‘s filming me, how my mechanic are, and once we get done with mecahanics, it’s how to read a defense, and we even have our own film days. What defense we’ll see, and how to take advantage of the defense we find. We’ll work with everything the quarterback needs to know, from even how to be a person outside of football.”

And the same from Bowkett, who was once a QB with the Sabers as well.

“He’s always been there for me, someone I can always go and talk to for anything, including football. He’s just a really good coach.”

And the really good coach realized he had a really different, good player as a freshman.

“He came in on 7 on 7s, not having one class in high school yet, and he was taking command in the huddle, leading the team as if he were 17 years old,” Bowkett said. “That’s what separates Romy from everyone else I’ve coached at that position.

“You have to have a level of confidence and cockiness at quarterback, and he’s got that, but he’s never really let it get to his head. He’s been a phenomenal teammate, and he’s developed a ton of mental and physical toughness along the way. And with that, he puts in the work. He puts in the work with Trevor. He puts in the work in the film. He’s an A-B student. He’s doing everything he needs to do to be elite.

“I think he’s the best quarterback in the state of New Hampshire. That’s like not too crazy to say. I think he’s legit.”

It’s been the perfect fit as under Bowkett, Jain’s learned even more.

“With the offense we run, I’ve actually gotten to play quarterback, and do everything a quarterback can, especially in a league like ours,” Jain said. “We basically run like a college offense, so I feel I’ve gotten that experieince, running a spread offense, begin more advanced than a lot of other QBs in high school.”

So in learning, Jain was armed with so much knowledge he was ready to play the most complex position in the sport as a freshman.

Having Jain take the reins from his brother also, though, fit the plan Bowkett had to rebuild the Sabers on the fly with young knowledgable players.

“He had his ups and downs as a freshman,” Bowkett said. “He comes out playing his first high school game and had six total touchdowns. His second game against Milford we lose 14-6 and he throws three interceptions. He literally goes from one end of the spectrum to the other. But that’s what playing quarterback is all about.”

Jain wasn’t too surprised he got the chance to start his first year but certainly didn’t take the opportunity lightly.

“I wasn’t so surprised because I knew the offense we had, we had to be a pass first offense,” he said. “Coach put the trust in me to be able to do the things I did, and I did them.”

Last year, how did some of the upperclassmen react when they found out a freshman would start at the most important position?

“Honestly, I didn’t know him at all, so I was like, I don’t know if this will end up good at all,” Sabers senior receiver Max McGrath said. “But starting to practice with him and stuff, and in 7 on 7s over the summer, I’m ‘Oh, he’s really good, actually.’ I was surprised.”

But this year Jain has taken his game to a new level, “taking what I did good last year, and being able to bring that to this year, and understanding who we have on offense, to be able to use. And not making those freshman-type mistakes, and making sure I’m staying ahead of what I need to. And stay getting better, no matter what.”

Plus, Jain is certainly still growing, as he’s 5-11, 175 pounds, but has more zip on the ball, he feels, and is able to throw the ball further, and is able to “be more confident staying in the pocket, being able to take hits from some defensive linemen.”

And run the ball – occasionally. Jain had a big TD run in last weekend’s semifinal win at Gilford-Belmont, but when it came time to keep going, he implored the coaches to keep feeding back J.J. Bright, who was having an outstanding game, rather than have Jain run or throw. Bright later scored on a 55-yard run.

“We have the best running back in the state, he’s already feeling good with 100 plus yards, and our linemen are blocking great,” Jain said he was thinking. “They’re not stopping the run right now. Why top what’s working.”

“For him to be, he doesn’t need to be the guy to win the game, to be confident and selfish when he needed to be, but 15 minutes later to be like, we didn’t have to win with him throwing the ball, was pretty awesome,” Bowkett said.

What has Jain learned the most as a QB in the last two years?

“Just playing smarter, seeing the same defenses, what works, watching film, and my coaches helping me how to read coverages,” he said. “Already having that skill, the next thing is using that skill with your mind.”

And being able to handle the pressure.

“I think that progression has helped a ton,” Bowkett said. “I think freshman year he wasn’t used to having a rush come at him, our offensive line had their growing pains, too, last year. It took a little while for Romy not to rush some throws, not to go through his progressions, not worry about the rush so much and keep his eyes downfield.”

Bowkett said he hasn’t seen that kind of tentative play this year. And running the ball, Jain “does it just well enough this year, he’ developing confidence in that area, not afraid to lower his shoulder and get the tough yards.”

Last year he basically was discouraged from doing it, and even this year a couple of coaches, Bowkett said, hold their breath if he runs.

Meanwhile, Jain showed a lot in his first playoff win last weekend, not being discouraged by a pick he threw on the Sabers’ first posession of the third quarter, already down 14 points.

“He never lost faith, kept his head up and was ready to rock,” Bowkett said. “Our offense goes because of his confidence.”

Clearly, Jain was just a different player this year, older and wiser.

“Ever since the start of the season,” he said. “I felt really good, being really confident and comfortable, when I get out on the field.

“It’s like, this is my offense, this is what I do.”

And what he does has the Sabers with a chance for their second title in the last three seasons. Of course, with Jain developing as quickly as he has, the question is whether he’d stay at Souhegan for all four years or at some point in the next four years move on to a prep school to advance his game before college at a higher level of competition. Bowkett says that’s something for down the road, that he and Jain have a good, open relationship.

Jain says right now, his mind is only on Saturday’s game and winning a title with his team.

“I’m hoping we’re able to keep him for all four years,” Bowkett said. “But you know, all I know is he’s going to be ready to rock come Saturday, and there’s no one else we’d want back there than him.

“All I know is Romy’s locked in to try to get a win Saturday against a great team.”


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *