Last season, a 6-4 mark for the Horizon Hawks’ football team wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about, but head coach Frank Ybarra thinks this season is the year his program could make the next …
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Last season, a 6-4 mark for the Horizon Hawks’ football team wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about, but head coach Frank Ybarra thinks this season is the year his program could make the next step: competing for a conference title.
“We want to improve on consistency,” Ybarra said. “We very well should have been 8-2 last year, but two games we had slipped away.”
The veteran squad of the Hawks returns 16 seniors, including skill position presences of quarterback Matt Francis, running back Derek Coffman and wide receiver Dadrian Paris.
Through the traditional I-Formation offensive scheme, Horizon anticipates running the ball behind a solid push from the offensive line. However, a young offensive front for the Hawks will have to prove themselves by opening space for Coffman and the other backs to maneuver. With the gained experience of Francis, expect more play-action passing to outside threats Paris, sophomore Vincent Miller (also a defensive back; will be out first two weeks due to sickness) and other younger receivers.
“Our identity has always been tough, hard-nosed football. We are going to pound the football, play physically on defense and when teams play us, they know they are going to get hit.”
Horizon will host Fountain-Fort Carson Aug. 23 at 7 p.m.
Thornton grad Trombetta looks to stabilize football program
After coaching at Denver North High School a season ago, new Thornton Head Coach and former Trojans graduate Nick Trombetta returns to restart a program that was winless in 2017.
“We want to stabilize the program,” Trombetta said. “When you’re coming off a winless season, there are obviously some things that were going wrong, even outside of football. We are bringing relentless structure and accountability to the program.”
Just eight seniors lead the charge for a junior-heavy roster that has a lot to prove, however, budding talent potentially could find its way full-bloom this fall.
Senior quarterback Christian Gang and senior two-way players Alex Plante and Angelo Romero (both will see time at running back and linebacker) are expected to bring leadership to the youthful group. In the two-back spread offensive attack for the Trojans, junior offensive lineman Fernando Parades anchors an inexperienced line that intends to grow throughout the season.
“We don’t really have a win-lose expectation. I think the big thing my coaching staff is trying to do now is teach them how to compete. We are looking for guys who are physically tough people.”
Along with Plante and Romero stirring up a lot defensively, keep an eye out for junior cornerback Robert Banks, who was an All-Conference Honorable Mention as a sophomore last year.
Thornton will play its opener on the road against Northglenn Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.
New coach, same expectation for Legacy
A new season brings a new face to Legacy football from Missouri Southern University, and that’s Corey Heinz.
The former Tight Ends/Running Backs coach at MSU takes over a 6-4 Lightning team that hopes to strike big in 2018 with playmakers drizzled all over the roster.
On the offensive side, senior transfer quarterback from Fairview, Nicholas McCarthy, will take reigns under center behind bruising senior center Aron Baugh. Senior guard Lee Biersner and improving junior Ian Gilbert will set aside Baugh in hopes to control the middle of the line of scrimmage.
“We need to be more physical at the point of attack,” Heinz said. “We have tremendous skill and talent to be very good in all areas, but we have to display a different level of toughness.”
Outside, senior receivers and two-way athletes Owen Weber, Landon Sneyd and junior Jacob Duran will give McCarthy options out of the spread on the perimeter. Sophomores Cale Claridge and Jaiden Peterson also have put together great summers in preparation for the season.
However, the most essential piece for McCarthy could potentially be returning starter and junior running back Dakota Key. The Lightning prefers a downhill running attitude with their talented back, and his break-away ability gives the QB a simple outlet to gain yardage when a play breaks down.
On the other side of the football, Heinz anticipates junior middle linebacker Adam Lynch to take the role as the defensive leader and enforcer.
“I’m excited, and I think these kids can be as good as they want to be. If we can stay healthy and do the right things we will have a chance to be pretty solid.”
In their first contest Aug. 24 at 7 p.m., Legacy will travel to Broomfield.
Senior class could mold success for Northglenn
After a 5-1 start in 2017, the Northglenn Norsemen had their struggles down the stretch, going 1-4.
As the new football season approaches, the presence of 26 seniors and another year of growth could prove crucial in finishing this season in a stronger fashion.
Heading into his sixth season as the Northglenn Football Coach, Matt Dean has high expectations for his veteran team.
“It will be exciting to see how these guys improve through the season and how they build off of what we did a year ago,” Dean said. “Having this core crew for the last few years, it will be fun to see how everything pays off.”
With senior and three-year starter Devin Scudder returning under center, tweaking of some offensive schemes based out of the spread could open up more opportunities downfield in the passing game. Despite some changes, Dean still wants his team predicated through the running game.
The Norsemen will return two senior running backs in Andrew Martel and Carlos Flores. Also, two powerful senior offensive linemen at center in Matt Pando and tackle, Bennet Beemer anticipate keeping the ground-and-pound mentality of this program. Outside at receiver, senior Hector Ortega presents a long, athletic option out at the boundary for Scudder. Senior receiver Nick Watkins also hopes to be another option after his fantastic offseason work.
Defensively, senior JJ Gomez will lead the back-end of the secondary at his free safety position. As a ball-hawk and hard-hitter, Gomez was the leading point-scorer for the defense in 2017.
In a rivalry game, Northglenn will host Thornton in their opener Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.
Familiar face takes over Mountain Range Football
Former offensive coordinator and newly promoted head coach Todd Riccio knows the culture of Mustangs football, and after a 4-6 season a year ago, strides could be on display this coming season.
In the teams’ four wins, the defense came up huge for Mountain Range, allowing just nine points per game. In their losses, MR allowed over 45 ppg. Showing flashes of excellence, the back-end of the secondary with junior Ethan Clark and sophomore Daunte Toliver could become a dynamic-duo behind leading-tackler and senior linebacker, Kacey Ward. Senior defensive/offensive lineman Jacob Konarski and Ward could see time on both sides of the ball.
At quarterback, junior Jakoby Hudson will get a crack to lead the split-back pistol offense. Three senior starters will line up on the o-line with work-horse senior running back Chris Herring set up behind the young QB.
“Our offensive line will be the key to our success,” Riccio said. “We are expecting big things from that group.”
A young corp of receivers will be led by junior Logan Dexter, who was injured early last season with a broken collarbone. Riccio believes his basketball background and athleticism has him in line for a breakout season.
“I want to see us compete. The league we are in we feel like we should be able to compete in every game that we play. Their best effort on every rep and attention to detail is crucial to our success.”
At home, Mountain Range will take on Douglas County Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.
“I’m excited to go play another team and see what our kids can do. I want to help put them in the right direction and have them achieve their potential and goals as they evolve into young men and a team.”
Westminster expects to improve through running game
In 2015, Westminster High School went 9-1. The past two years, the record has flipped to 1-9 each season. But thanks to gained experience and a lighter schedule in 2018, this season could flip back to where the Wolves are used to, in the win column.
“The last couple of years we have played a lot of young guys so my hope this year is to show more consistency on both sides of the ball,” head coach Kerry Denison said. “We finally have some kids that have gotten some playing time that I think will help us out immensely.”
Under the wing-T offense for the Westminster, the goal is to control the game on the ground. This year they will lean on senior running backs Nic Lopez and Miguel Villalobos to shoulder the load. Junior quarterback Romeo Rodriguez will be asked to assist on the ground, but will also contribute through improving the passing game of the Wolves.
On defense, third-year starter and linebacker Tanner Sisco and Lopez will lead the charge to an aggressive defense.
“The kids are excited, and I think the mentality of this team is a lot better than it was a year ago. We have a group that wants to win, and our team chemistry has improved.”
The Wolves will travel to Skyline Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. to open the season.
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