Summit High: Football team preview
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
FARMER’S KORNER – If there are any doubters of this year’s Summit High football team, senior fullback Nate Rowe will set them straight. Even though the Tigers lost a slew of starters from last fall’s lineup, Rowe doesn’t see any reason for a let down.
In fact, he has some pretty lofty goals.
“I’m looking at 9-1,” he said, after contemplating what he expects from his team.
And, in his own matter-of-fact style, Rowe also has the plan to get there.
“We just need to bust our ass, every day,” said Rowe, who will also play on the Tigers’ defensive line. “Bust our ass and get the intensity up, and we’ll be really good. It’s just everyone working together and not being selfish.”
Working as one unit looks to be the theme for the Tigers this fall, when they start their season Friday at Battle Mountain.
“We’re a brotherhood here, and we need to bound and drive together,” senior wide receiver and safety Michael Daniels said. “That’s our motto this year: together, together, together.”
After losing 19 seniors from last year’s squad – a hand full of which are now on college rosters – head coach Dylan Hollingsworth said the Tigers will have a more balanced attack, sharing the load in areas where Summit used to rely on their star players.
Hollingsworth said he understands the naysayers who may believe the Tigers are in for a tough year, but he certainly doesn’t agree with them.
“The expectations for us have been dropped by many in the community and around the state,” he said. “I don’t want to compare this year’s team to last year’s team. I want them to find their own identity, because they aren’t last year’s team. … I want them to figure out what they do well and do it.”
Part of what defines this year’s team appears to be speed. The Tigers may be a little smaller than last year, but nearly every player said they are much faster than in year’s past.
“We don’t have a lot of size, but we have a ton of speed,” linebacker and tailback Rick Dreyer said.
“I don’t think we’ve had a team this fast in a long time,” Rowe added.
And Hollingsworth said that it’s up to the coaches to make small tweaks to the game plan to adhere to his team’s strengths.
“We’ve changed it a little, but we’re using the same foundations,” he said. “We’re adjusting the schemes to fit the personnel we have. We haven’t changed our numbering, we haven’t changed how we call things, but we’re definitely trying to take advantage of what we think these kids can do well.”
Last fall, the Tigers relied heavily on about three or four kids to get the job done on the offensive side of the ball. This year, Hollingsworth feels that will be totally different.
“We’ve got a lot of kids that we can put the ball in their hands, and we’ve just got to spread it out a little bit more,” he added. “We feel really good about the kids that have stepped into those positions.”
One player who would have likely solidified one of those roles on offense was senior Cody Thomas. After seeing quite a bit of action on both sides of the ball last season, Thomas tore his posterior cruciate ligament training earlier in the summer.
“It was a rough day for me, it was like a nightmare,” Thomas said of finding out about the injury.
At first, it looked as though he’d miss the whole season, but a recent diagnosis calls for about a five week recovery.
“Hopefully, we’ll get him back halfway through the season,” Hollingsworth said of Thomas. ” … You can’t replace Cody with just one person. You have to have a lot of kids step up, and we’ve had that.”
The Tigers have had a lot of players step up all over the field thus far in the season. Despite losing all four starters in the defensive backfield and most of the defensive line, Hollingsworth sees big things in the future for his defense.
” We feel like we have more depth this year than in any other year I’ve been here,” he said.
Because of the depth, Hollingsworth said his defense and offense has simple tasks to accomplish in order to succeed.
“I know it sounds simple, but if we make tackles and can force teams to turn the ball over, we’ll be in great shape,” the coach said. “Offensively, we need to take care of the ball and take advantage of our opportunities.”
Though it appears that Dreyer and Rowe will handle the ball quite a bit on offense – as well as receivers Mike Daigle and Daniels and tight end Keynon Roggasch – the quarterback position hasn’t been locked up yet. As of Friday, Hollingsworth was still deciding between senior Sam Dudick, who hasn’t played football since eighth grade, and sophomore Justin Looby.
“Jason has more knowledge of what we’re doing, he understands the offense better, he’s comfortable with it. Sam’s a little bit more physically prepared to play that role,” Hollingsworth said. “I like both of them and how they both do things.”
Hollingsworth said he has confidence that his team can win with either quarterback, and he’s looking forward to the Tigers hopefully making another run into the postseason.
His players certainly think that will be a possibility this year.
Obviously, Rowe does.
“We’re all pretty mean,” he said, referring to the way his squad plays on defense. “We’ll get the job done.”
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