Regis Jesuit DE Jake Heimlicher, a former quarterback, had a state-leading 22 sacks last year

AURORA — Looking beyond the statistics, Regis Jesuit football coach Danny Filleman says senior two-way starter Jake Heimlicher is a better person than a player. Gladly, Heimlicher will take that compliment over his state-leading 22 sacks last year and distinction of being Colorado’s premier defensive end.

“That means a lot,” Heimlicher, who also starts at tight end, said of his coach’s praise. “Football is just a game. Everybody knows you as a person. But not everyone knows you as a football player.”

The 6-foot-4 Heimlicher joined Regis as a freshman quarterback in 2014 but became a starting varsity defensive end as a sophomore under the guidance of former Broncos defensive end Harald Hasselbach. Filleman asked Hasselbach, a two-time Super Bowl champion, to work with Heimlicher after the youngster was beaten out for the varsity starting quarterback position and offered to switch positions to make the team.

“It’s unbelievable,” Heimlicher said of being coached by Hasselbach. “High school players don’t usually have the chance to get taught by a guy who won two Super Bowls.”

Two years after he began working with Hasselbach, Heimlicher has scholarship offers from Colorado, Cal and Princeton, Penn and Brown of the Ivy League. Heimlicher, who carries a 3.5 grade-point average and also plays on the Raiders’ baseball team, is up to 210 pounds after playing around 185 last year. He hasn’t lost any speed, and recently ran a laser-timed 4.6-second 40-yard dash.

“He’s a stud, just a great kid,” Filleman said. “Real supportive of younger players who look up to him. He’s kind of a dream kid to coach.”

As for his pass-rushing abilities, “Jake has this innate ability, it just comes naturally. The leverage to him, he has long arms but he plays low. Last year, he played at 185 (pounds) or something and he would lock out and hold his own against 300-pound linemen. No problem. Just great technique and great leverage. Just a special player.”

Regis opens the season Friday in a showdown at Cherry Creek, and the Bruins surely will try to devise a plan to stop Heimlicher.

“If we’re playing him, we’d scheme against him,” Filleman said. “He’s not flying under the radar anymore. But he’s such a competitor, I wouldn’t surprise if he at least matches (22 sacks).”