With three weeks of summer practices in the books, the Summit Tigers football team kicks off its regular season Friday under the new lights at Skyview High School in Thornton.
“The kids are champing at the bit to get after someone else,” Tigers head coach Dylan Hollingsworth said after practice last week.
The Tigers team will debut a new offense this season to go along with the move from the Metro North Conference to the Western Slope League.
“We’re much more versatile than we were last year,” Hollingsworth said of the new scheme. “We should be able to spread the ball out more.”
The switch should also provide some much-needed relief for the running game, which the team relied on heavily during its 2-8 2013 season.
With eight returning starters on offense and defense, Hollingsworth is hopeful that experience will be the key to greater success this season.
“We’ve got kids who have played. They’re not coming in with bug eyes,” he said. “We have the foundation to start moving forward.”
With the scheme change and a year of experience behind them, Hollingsworth said, the team is aiming for a winning season.
But first it’ll have to learn to win. “In the last couple years it’s become this habit of losing,” he said.
The team will be looking to improve tackling and minimize mistakes this year on defense. On offense, the ability to sustain drives will be key.
Last year’s run-first offense led by running back Tristan McDonald and quarterback Luke Egging saw success moving the football, but drives often fell short of the goal line.
McDonald and Egging, returning for their senior seasons, will look to lead the offense again this year, but it won’t be an easy task in the new conference.
“We’re definitely going to have our hands full,” Hollingsworth said of the move to the Western Slope. “They’ve got some solid teams and there’s more of them.”
In the larger conference, the Tigers will have just three games to warm up for league play.
Looking ahead to Friday night’s game at Skyview, Hollingsworth said the team will be tested early.
“They’ve got some athletes. They’re willing to take some chances to make the big play.”
That list of athletes starts with 6-foot, 2-inch, 220-pound senior quarterback Brandon Barringer, who threw for 800 yards in three games before an injury shortened his season.
With the new lights at Skyview, Hollingsworth said he expects up to 2,000 fans in attendance, presenting an extra challenge on the road to start the season.
“Week one is always a tough week. You never know what’s going to happen,” Hollingsworth said. “It might be a little eye opening for our players.”
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. in Thornton.