The start of the 2019 Colorado high school football season may be over two months from kicking off, but Horizon and Mountain Range jump-started their off-season work by participating in the annual …
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The start of the 2019 Colorado high school football season may be over two months from kicking off, but Horizon and Mountain Range jump-started their off-season work by participating in the annual Denver Broncos’ 7-on-7 tournament June 13.
As these two programs hope for bounce-back season’s beginning Aug. 30, both said they’d made strides at the tournament.
After a 6-4 season in 2017, a 2-8 record last year was unexpected for head coach Frank Ybarra, who is heading into his 16th season as the Hawks’ commander.
“I think once we got going, we did pretty well,” Ybarra said about his team’s play in the three matchups Thursday. “We just came out flat in our first game (Dakota Ridge). You must bring your best at all times when competing against other teams if you want to be successful. Our work is never done because while we are working to get better, so are the other teams across the state and we cannot relax.”
Settling down against Denver North and Pinnacle, the offense found a better groove as senior Jacob Loomis, junior Blake Rosenbach and sophomore Xavier Harris continued to split snaps at the quarterback position. With last year’s starter, Matt Francis graduated, the QB competition in Westminster will be heating up as we move closer to the first contest.
Other standouts on the afternoon included 2-way players in juniors Liam Francis and Vince Miller. The two will play receiver offensively as well as in the secondary defensively for the Hawks this season.
On the other side, Mountain Range under head coach Todd Riccio, anticipates growth in his second year at the helm. With a 3-7 (6-game losing streak to end the season) record last season, the offensive unit must improve for this team to get where they want to in their split-back pistol system.
Competition-wise, the big one to watch this offseason is at quarterback between senior Koby Hudson and junior Clayton Do. The two combined for 596 yards passing a season ago on 148 attempts and five touchdowns. Hudson recorded all of the reps last Thursday with a large portion of the team not in attendance due to prior commitments.
“We were missing some key people today due to scheduling conflicts, so we had wide receivers playing linebacker and corner(back) who had never done it before today,” Riccio said. “Competition is a great thing, and it forces players to rise up and give their best every chance they can get. The quarterback battle will continue throughout the summer. We still have a long way to go and a lot to improve on, but we did okay today.”
Opening eyes against Palmer, Palmer Ridge and Monte Vista, senior Josh Mata and juniors Connor Hinkle and Jesse Begano continued their leap into becoming significant contributors for the Mustangs this season. Staying consistent, however, could prove the difference in success this year for Riccio and Mountain Range.
“We need to take the lessons we learned today and continue to get better and improve with every rep we take. We need to be ready to play and compete with every opportunity we get,” Riccio said. “ We need to learn how to rise to our level, execute, and play to our potential. We also need to learn how to believe in ourselves, what we are doing, and each other and gain confidence every chance we can.”
The cross-town schools will both begin their seasons Aug. 30 on the road. Horizon will take on Fountain-Fort Carson while Mountain Range plays Douglas County.
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