For football players at Ocoee High School, Jason Boltus is mostly known as “coach” or “Bolt.”
But with Boltus throwing for two touchdowns in the National Arena League Championship, helping to lead the Jacksonville Sharks past the Columbus Lions 27-21 July 10 in front of nearly 10,000 fans, some may begin calling him “champ.”
Boltus was promoted to head coach at Ocoee this spring following Ben Bullock’s departure to Lake Highland Prep. Previously the Knights’ offensive coordinator, Boltus had been retired from his career as a professional quarterback — a career that had seen him play most recently for the Tampa Bay Storm, as well as the Orlando Predators.
“Football contracts are so hard to pass up. When the opportunity comes up, you kind of reevaluate the situation. It’s such a small window to play professional football in respect to your life.”
— Jason Boltus
But when Tommy Grady — a friend of his and the starting quarterback for the Sharks — went down with an injury, an opportunity opened that happened to align with the window between the conclusion of the high-school spring football season and the beginning of fall camp.
With Jacksonville having the look of a contender for the NAL Championship, the chance was too good to pass up.
“The (Jacksonville) coaches were preaching to me that they were trying to win a ring,” Boltus said. “It was more about being part of a championship run. (Championships are) hard to come by — and it happened to be my first one.”
Ocoee players have long known about their coach’s career as a professional quarterback, but Boltus’ winning a championship adds another dimension. As head coach, Boltus is the administrator of the team’s Hudl account, and so he got notifications for the messages the players were sending one another during the championship game — messages with questions of where they could find the stream of the game, or a message to celebrate one of the two touchdown passes.
“It was pretty cool to watch them all watch their coach,” Boltus said. “I think that if they see me doing it still, able to compete at a high level, I think they’ll buy into what we’re doing at Ocoee.”
Now, Boltus will return his attention to preparing for his first season as a high-school head coach. The Knights are fresh off of winning the program’s first district championship, and the challenge will be to retain that momentum.
As for whether there will be yet another chapter to his professional career, Boltus — who turns 31 in August — is focused on his job with Ocoee but said he wouldn’t rule out an opportunity if it lined up neatly between his high-school duties, as this one did.
“Football contracts are so hard to pass up,” Boltus said. “When the opportunity comes up, you kind of reevaluate the situation. It’s such a small window to play professional football in respect to your life.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].