For Cambridge quarterback Ezra Stein, football is a family affair.
The son of former University of Wisconsin center Jeff Stein, Ezra’s go-to sport has always been on the gridiron.
“My dad played football and my brother was playing football, so I kind of just went with it,” Stein said. “And, now, it’s my favorite sport.”
Stein’s father played for the Badgers from 1984-87, and has remained a key influence on his football career since its inception.
“He’d give me an expectation of where I should be at (in the weight room),” Stein said. “He told my brother and I what weights he was at (when he was our age), and we always tried to stay with him.
"He gives us a perspective of where he wants us to be, too. He helps with a lot of things.”
It’s not just the quarterback position and the weight room Stein seeks help with, either. In 2018, the all-Capitol South first-team offensive and defensive honoree led the team in tackles for loss, tied for the lead in total tackles and was second in sacks from his middle linebacker position.
He also served as the Blue Jays' kicker and was second-team all-conference as a punter.
“We started him out on defense and got him used to playing varsity football,” Cambridge coach Mike Klingbeil said. “Plus, he’s been kicking since he was a freshman. As he grew into those roles, you could tell what kind of an athlete he was.”
Stein doesn’t rely completely on those natural athletic gifts. He knows he must continue to work on the details of his craft in order to stay make progress at all of his positions.
“Ezra has always been an athlete that likes to put in the time,” Cambridge lineman Ryan Lund said. “He strives to play at the next level. We both do. So we really push each other.”
The rules made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic have changed Stein's workout routine, but he still has found a way.
“He’s been able to find some places to work out on practice fields, working on drills and stuff,” Klingbeil added. “He’s put in a ton of time in the quarterback position, where you need to do that in order to be good at it.”
This offseason, that time includes getting into the weight room and focusing on his diet under the instruction of Cambridge track and field assistant coach Johan Kaashagen. Ezra's brother, Eli, a tight end for the Blue Jays, also has helped alot, running routes for his brother.
It doesn’t stop there. Stein has put an emphasis on honing his throwing and footwork with former UW-Whitewater head coach Bob Berezowitz. Berezowitz, a star quarterback at Whitewater in his day, went on to coached the Warhawks from 1985-2006, compiling a record of 158-73-4 and earning NCAA Division III runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2006.
“It’s really fun to work with (Coach Berezowitz),” Stein said. “He knows his stuff, and he’s really on my butt to go as hard as I can.”
‘Why put in so much effort and time into the sport?’ one might ask. For Stein, the answer is easy.
“I want a scholarship. I want to make my dad proud.”