The Holy Family football standard has been set, and after a 34-28 defeat in the opening round of the 3A state tournament last year, the Tigers are hungrier than ever going into 2019. Under 12th-year …
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The Holy Family football standard has been set, and after a 34-28 defeat in the opening round of the 3A state tournament last year, the Tigers are hungrier than ever going into 2019.
Under 12th-year head coach Michael Gabriel, HF anticipates atoning for a 2-3 record to close out last season. With 15 starters returning overall and 24 seniors on the roster, the time is now to compete for a conference title, and maybe more.
“Like any senior class, they are finding their way to lead, but I expect them to do a good job of it,” Gabriel said last week in a phone interview. “We did graduate a big class, but we have seven offensive starters returning and eight on defense, so it’s a pretty experienced group. I’m hoping that experience carries over to the season.”
In the spread, west coast style of offense that the Tigers want to run, quality play from the quarterback position is a must. Starting the first four games a season ago before breaking his collarbone in the fourth affair, Callahan Carter is back. In his three full contests last year, the gunslinger threw for 279 yards a game including a completion rate of 63 percent. The team also scored 34 points per game, going 2-1 in that stretch.
Equipped with three returning offensive lineman, seniors Walter Blackmore, Shawn Dean and junior Cord Kringlen will lead the way to protect Carter. The other two o-line spots are still up in the air as preseason camp begins Aug. 12. Last year’s leading rusher also returns in junior Trevin Johnson. The quick-footed back averaged 6.6 yards per carry with four touchdowns in his sophomore season. Johnson plus senior receiving threats Braedon Peters (led team with 681 yards receiving last year) and Ben Nappe on the outside put in place weapons at the disposal of Carter.
Defensively, a lot of players will play both ways. Seniors Jack Bertagnolli and Nappe will anchor the secondary and the leadership role for a defense hoping to improve on their 29 points per game allowed clip. Joe Bravo also takes over as the new defensive coordinator for HF, bringing a new 4-2-5 scheme. The ability to counter the explosive offenses of the Northern Metro Conference opponents will be vital to a turnaround this season.
At linebacker, senior Ryan Biehler and junior Benito Hernandez anticipate bringing consistency to a position that rotated a lot of players in and out last year. Maintaining a push upfront in this new defense will also be of priority in letting these linebackers roam freely.
“I think one of the things they learned (last year) in the first half of that game (playoff game against Harrison), you can’t take plays off. You never know when it’s going to be your last play, especially in a playoff game to continue your season or be done. You can’t wait, “Gabriel said. “I felt like the kids were waiting for somebody to make a big play until halftime. However, they woke up at half, and I think learning to play the whole game is something we’ve focused on this year.”
“We’ve focused on trying to be the best in our league again, and it wasn’t long ago we were league champs. The last couple of seasons we have struggled with a couple of games in our league, so the league is a big focus for us. The lessons have all been taught, so we will see if they respond. But they are a good group for sure, and we are excited about this year and the opportunity to compete with some of the state’s best.”
Holy Family will travel to Pueblo West in the team’s opener Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.
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