There will be a familiar face on the Spring Creek High School football bench for the 2014 season.
Joel Jund is entering his 16th year as the head football coach and hopes the team improves following a disappointing 2013 season.
“Our record last year was 3-6. We were not good,” said Jund.
The team is without its best offensive and defensive lineman from the 2013 season, Jacob Roumanos, who is now playing at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Mont.
“Another notable departure is Jacob Boulette. He gave us a lot of effort last year,” said Jund.
Boulette played linebacker and fullback. Between Roumanos and Boulette, the Spartans lose over 150 tackles that they must make up for in the 2014 season.
Returning for the Spartans is senior running back Braxton Williams. During the 2013 season, Williams rushed for 1,161 yards and scored 16 total touchdowns. Williams scored 15 of his touchdowns on the ground.
Thomas West is the team’s leading returning tackler. West played linebacker and saw time at running back for the Spartans a year ago. He will play the same positions this season.
Managing the offense will be second-year starting quarterback and senior Dillon Draper, who also plays linebacker on the defensive side of the ball.
Jund said, “Mike Smith is back for us as well. He played defensive back and wide receiver for us last year and did a good job.”
Smith, also a senior, accounted for more than half of Spring Creek’s receiving yards (291) in 2013 and caught three of the six Spartan passing touchdowns.
Jund said, “We need to be able to run the ball first, but we are looking to throw it too. We’re going to try to be as balanced as we can, but balanced means go with whatever is working. Being balanced doesn’t necessarily mean running it half the time and passing half the time. We will do what we can.”
Defensively, the Spartans are going to use a 3-4 base defense. The 3-4 utilizes three down linemen, four linebackers and four defensive backs.
“We are seeing a lot of spread teams now, and we need to be prepared to stop the pass. We think the 3-4 will allow us to adapt to power running sets and the spread as well,” said Jund.
One of the Spartan strengths going into the season is speed. Jund noted the team has decent team speed at the skill positions (running back, wide receiver and tight end).
Jund said, “Hopefully our speed will translate into some big, explosive plays for us this year. Time will tell if that happens or not, but I would say speed is a strength of ours right now.”
A weakness of the team is depth. Only 12 seniors went out for football, and only approximately 30 players are on the Spartan roster.
“Trying to establish depth and staying healthy is very important,” said Jund.
Jund explained that offensively, success starts up front. He looks for Williams, West, Draper and Smith to play big roles but hopes others step up as well.
“Brady DuPea looks good at wide receiver. Clint Rider has practiced well, and Taylor Moseley is back. We have some kids to spread the ball around to, but we are going to do as well as our offensive line does,” said Jund.
The Spartans will be led on defense by Thomas West. West finished second on the team in tackles in the 2013 campaign to Roumanos, with 82 stops.
“Thomas is a good player. He’s been practicing hard. He has an opportunity to be great,” said Jund.
Jund was also excited about Jake Davis making the move upward from junior varsity. He expects Davis to play a prominent role on both sides of the ball.
Jund said, “It’s going to take a total team effort to play good defense. Hopefully, we can swarm as a team, get to the ball and create some turnovers to give ourselves some opportunities on offense.
Spring Creek will need to play much more solid defense in 2014 to beat the four playoff teams from the Northern 1-A last season. Fallon, Elko, Fernley and Lowry defeated Spring Creek by a total of 204-42 in 2013.
Fallon, Elko and Lowry all posted 8-1 league records last season. Fallon lost to Faith Lutheran in the state championship game. Elko lost in the first round of playoffs to Lowry, who fell to the eventual state champion Faith Lutheran in the semifinal. Fernley was 6-3 in league play and lost to Fallon in the first round of the playoffs.
Jund said, “In order to be in the top four of our league, we will need to beat a lot of the teams in our league and probably knock off two of those top teams. There are no easy games in our league. Wooster was much improved and Truckee has a rich tradition. We are going to have to show up and play well to beat any of the teams on our schedule.”
The Spartans open their season at 7 p.m. Sept. 5 against South Tahoe at Spring Creek High School. Another big game that everyone circles on the schedule is the Elko rivalry game. Elko will host Spring Creek at Warrior Field Oct. 30.
Jund said, “We always tell our players that practice without improvement is pointless. We need to improve every week to meet the challenges of our league.”