BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WANE) – After graduating from Bishop Luers as the SAC’s all-time leading passer James Knapke has continued his success on the gridiron at Bowling Green.
While at Luers Knapke became the only starting quarterback in Indiana high school football history to win three state titles. As a sophomore in 2009 he led the Knights to a 24-17 win over Monrovia at state, a 26-14 victory over North Putnam in 2010, and a 41-17 whipping of Evansville Mater Dei in 2011. He finished with 5,983 passing yards in his prep career, surpassing the mark of former Luers standout and current Knights head coach Kyle Lindsay.
Knapke says Bowling Green was his only Division One offer coming out of high school. With Dave Clawson moving on to Wake Forest and his successor Dino Babers now at Syracuse, Knapke is playing for his third head coach in five seasons – first-year BGSU head coach Mike Jinks.
Knapke’s career arc has been a unique one. After red-shirting his first year on campus and serving as a back-up the next season Knapke was thrust into the starting role as a redshirt sophomore when All-MAC quarterback Matt Johnson was lost for the season due to an injury in the Falcons season-opener. Knapke went on to pass for 3,173 yards and was named the MVP of the Camellia Bowl when BGSU beat South Alabama.
When Johnson returned at full strength in 2015 Knapke was relegated to back-up duty despite his stellar performance in 2014. This fall, the senior has regained the starting job and will look to lead the Falcons to a win against Memphis in the Liberty Bowl this Saturday.
Knapke says he’s motivated in part by the death of former Bishop Luers teammate and good friend Montez Brooks, who passed away on March 31, 2013 after being shot. Knapke, who was a pallbearer at the funeral, wears a “RIP TEZ” towel at every practice to honor his fallen teammate.
Knapke will graduate with a degree in communications this December. He said coaching is a possibility for the future.