It’s still 84 days until the Douglas varsity football team kicks off at Reno High School to open the 2013 season, but the Tigers have been hard at work all winter and spring preparing for the campaign.
“It’s a year-round effort and the kids have really bought into what we are trying to do,” said Douglas head coach Ernie Monfiletto as his team recently went through its spring practices. “This was our chance to see how the kids’ work has paid off so far and give us a gauge of what needs to happen over the summer.”
With school finishing last week, the team will get several short weeks of summer before launching into its summer weightlifting program in late June.
“There’s a period of trying to get everyone on the same page with what we are trying to install schematically,” Monfiletto said. “I kind of compare it to walking after ice skating or skiing. It takes a little while to get your feet back under you. But we’re excited with what we’ve seen and what the kids have done.”
Douglas is coming off a 4-6 season that started out with big wins over Reno and McQueen, contained a last-second win over rival Carson and ended with a tough loss to eventual regional champion Reed.
“We have a lot to prove,” Monfiletto said. “I think the expectations got high last year early on and we just have to get back to taking it one game at a time. Our goal is to get better.”
The Tigers lose a large contingent of skill players, but have a large number of returnees, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines.
“We have a lot of experience coming back on both sides of the ball,” Monfiletto said. “I think there are 15 kids that started at one point or another for us last year, so that’s a pretty good representation. Our overall experience and depth, we’re in good shape there.”
There will be some changes on both sides of the ball — Monfiletto expressed an interest in bringing back a two-back offense with more sets that use a tight end on the line.
“We want to control the ball on the ground more,” he said. “Really work on burning that clock. There were a lot of times last year where we scored so quickly, we just weren’t allowing our defense off the field enough.
“And then our emphasis is to get better on defense. We’re moving back to a 4-3 front and making adjustments out of that.
“The focus is on stopping the run, controlling the line of scrimmage.”
Monfiletto said he has been pleased with the overall effort from the incoming senior class.
“We’re led by a lot of seniors, its hard to even list them all, because they are all contributing and all getting better,” he said.
Most notably, the Tigers have two three-year starters in lineman Zach Kinder and receiver/linebacker Taylor Souza. Garet Rice also returns after putting in significant time on both sides of the ball as does receiver/quarterback Wes Hundley, defensive back/running back Mason Rhoads, linemen Zach Moehle, Conner Miller, Steven Henning, Wyatt Eichhorst, Jesse Urteaga, Ray Bedow and Garrett Gilbert and receiver AJ Pfaffenberger.
Kyle Adams, Cale Kynett and Kaleb Foster should all be in for big years as well on defense. Bailey Vidaurri is the running back with the most carries returning from last season and Brandon Harmon will be stepping into a larger role as well.
“Everyone is excited and ready to go already,” Garet Rice said. “We all want the season to be here. We’re working hard and staying focused.
“We all just have a passion and drive for the game. The whole team buys in and it’s a great program here. We’re just working to get better every day. That’s kind of our motto, putting on our hard hats and getting to work.”
The team spent the winter season in conditioning sessions, including early-morning “mat drills” where the players participate in intense circuit training.
“It was tough,” said senior Zach Moehle. “All the mat drills and all the morning workouts, it was a commitment. But when we finally got out to the field, it was really good to see how it had paid off. All of us were a lot quicker on our feet, getting a lot stronger in the weight room.
“Things like that bring you together as a team too. When someone is struggling, everyone gets behind them to help them out. It builds your trust in each other.”
Quarterback will be one of the largest question marks heading into the year as Hundley will compete for the spot with junior varsity call up Nick Abreu and Dalton Grisell.
“They’ll be mixing it up there,” Monfiletto said. “We’ve got time to figure it out. That’s one thing about this group, we have a lot of kids who can fit in a lot of spots.
“Every day before spring workouts the coaches had a draft to see who would play where and where the best fits were.
“It’s a good problem to have. We have a lot of flexibility in what we can do.”
Monfiletto made some tweaks to his coaching staff during the offseason, bringing on longtime coach Steve Wilcox to help out with the defensive line and longtime junior varsity coach Lance Hartzell to coach linebackers. Rod Smalley will continue to coordinate the defense, Rick McGuire will coach receivers and Joe Andrews will handle the offensive line and special teams. Monfiletto will continue to call the offense.
“We just talked a lot about having as many coaches as possible able to focus on just one side of the ball. It helps with in-game adjustments and with details during practice. Everyone more or less has their area of focus now, which I think makes us better.
“It is a treat to have guys like Steve and Lance back with us. They bring so much experience and energy to the game and a unique perspective to teaching the kids.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what happens this year.
Official practice begins August 12. Douglas opens the season on the road at Reno on Aug. 30 and plays its first home game Sept. 13 against Reed.
The Douglas junior varsity team will begin summer workouts at 4 p.m. on June 24 and run through most of the summer on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-6:30 p.m. For more information on the junior varsity team, e-mail coach Ollie Herald at Oll22ie07@msn.com.
The freshman football squad will begin it summer workouts June 24 at 4 p.m. and run Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through much of the summer from 4-7 p.m.
Interested players should bring a 1-inch three-ring binder with windows, wear orange, black, white or gray shorts and shirts, black cleats or tennis shoes.
All participants in summer workouts must first be cleared through the school’s athletic department. for more information on freshman football, e-mail email@example.com, or call the school’s athletic office at 782-5136, ext. 1868.