Armed with a mix of youth and experienced veterans, the Douglas High School football team is entering a new season looking to improve on its 2-8 record in 2013.
The Tigers, who open Saturday with a 9:30 a.m. (PDT) game against Minico (Rupert, Idaho) as part of the Rocky Mountain Rumble, are led by a nucleus that includes no less than five seniors who saw action as starters last year. Looking back on that 2-8 record, five of those games were decided by a combined total of 32 points, including a 19-13 overtime loss to Carson and a 15-14 loss to Spanish Springs on a last-minute touchdown. The Tigers’ two wins, 14-6 over Hug and 26-16 over Bishop Manogue, were also decided in the final minute (the winning touchdown at Hug came with seven seconds to go).
There will be little margin this season for injuries, however, since the Tigers’ team roster lists 35 players.
“We’re real excited about the effort these kids have given so far,” said Monfiletto, whose squad tuned up for its season opener with a scrimmage Saturday at home against McQueen. “We’re excited about where we’re at and the progress we’ve made. We’re very optimistic. Those kids have just gotten a lot better from the first day they stepped into weight training class in January until now. They’ve gotten stronger, they’re faster and they’re prepared to be varsity football players.”
Among the returning veterans, Andrew Jensen is a two-way starter who earned first-team all-Sierra League honors as an offensive guard and second-team all-league at defensive tackle.
The 6-foot-3, 243-pound senior joined the elite 1,000-pound club with his combined lifts in the bench press (305 pounds), squat (440) and clean (280).
“He’s ready to play,” Monfiletto said of Jensen. “Along with Zack Singer (returning senior), they’re going to anchor both the offensive and defensive lines. If they stay healthy, I think they’re going to help us a lot.”
Third-year varsity seniors Cale Kynett and Kaleb Foster figure to be on the field often, both on defense and offense. Both were second-team all-league linebackers last season and both saw action as running backs. Kynett is set to play tailback and Foster H-back.
Senior Nick Abreu has moved from running back to play quarterback. Abreu was the team’s leading rusher with 420 yards in 2013 — highlighted by a 24-carry, 217-yard performance against Spanish Springs — and will rank among the fastest players in the North based on his 11.18 clocking for 100 meters during track season.
“Nick gives us experience and leadership, and he runs great,” Monfiletto said of Abreu. “His ability is going to lend itself to what we want to do offensively.”
As far as that youth, five sophomores are listed on the roster. All are expected to contribute this season, Monfiletto observed.
“They’re all going to help us, absolutely,” he said.
This is the Douglas varsity’s largest sophomore group since the 2001 team that included Luke Rippee, Andy McIntosh, Stormy Herald, Dusty Cooper and Jake Peterson. That outcome turned out well since the Tigers went on to a school record 11-1 season in 2003.
“I think it helps for the future,” Monfiletto said of the sophomores. “It helps them become better football players. Experience is something you can’t replace.”
Two of those sophomores appear set as starters on defense: Reagan Roberson at middle linebacker and Taran Grove at defensive end. Roberson is stepping in to replace Kyle Adams, a first-team all-leaguer last year.
Sophomores Tre Jackson and Isaiah Schat are expected to help out in the defensive secondary. Jackson is also a backup at quarterback and Schat is competing for time at wide receiver. Leo Cruz is also competing for playing time at tailback and linebacker.
The Tigers gained three transfers during the offseason, including senior Tyler Marguth, along with juniors Mason Newton and Izaac Holmes.
Marguth returned to Douglas this spring after two years at Arrowhead High School (Hartland, Wis.), a team that won back-to-back Wisconsin Division I state championships (the Warhawks were 26-1 in 2012-13). Marguth is expected to contribute at outside linebacker and punter — he received honorable mention all-league recognition last year at defensive end and punter — and will also see time at tight end.
Newton, who plays center and defensive tackle, transferred from a Benicia, Calif. team that went to the playoffs last year. Holmes, a wide receiver and defensive back, moved from Pahrump.
Senior Ryan Wasser returns with experience at defensive back last season, including a key interception against Spanish Springs. Bryce James, Luke Houghton and Abreu are also expected to contribute in the secondary.
“On paper, the defense looks good,” Monfiletto said. “They’ve got experience and I think it’s our strength.”
Johnny Gonzalez, who returns with experience on the offensive line, is expected to step in as the starting center. Ian Pieller is another returning offensive lineman, and is joined by junior Josh Jensen (Andrew’s younger brother), Jonah Hedlund and Roberson to compete for playing time.
“I think that we’re capable of running the ball better (than last year) and we will continue to improve our passing game,” Monfiletto said of the offense.
Adrian Gonzalez and Kynett are listed as the team’s kickers. Kynett is also a punter.
Notes: The Tigers’ season opener against Minico can be followed online at http://www.idahosports.com/gamestreams/default.aspx ... Defending Northern Division I region champion Reed lost its season opener to Mountain Pointe (Tempe, Ariz.), 66-13, Saturday night at the Sollenberger Classic in Las Vegas. The Mountain Pointe Pride, the defending Arizona large schools state champion (14-0 in 2013), took a 35-0 halftime lead. ... Defending Nevada Division I champion Bishop Gorman, ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today, opened Friday night with a 44-0 win on its home field against Brophy (Phoenix).