Tiger Football Team Preview
It will be an interesting year for Saint Xavier High School Football to say the least. The 2013-2014 Tigers finished the season with a disappointing 6-6 record. Year one of the Will Wolford Era did not go according to plan.
However, year two will no doubt be different–if only because so many new faces will be on the field this season. Only two starters return from last season. Everyone else graduated. That means we are going to see a lot of new guys make an impact on this year’s team. What’s good is that a lot of these new guys look like they’re going to be pretty good.
The offense looks poised to do some great things. The two returning starters from last season, senior tackle Tyler Haycraft and senior center Nathan Scheler, will anchor the offensive line. That group should be solid in both run and pass protection, which is very promising, because if the big guys up front are stout, this offense will be special. It all starts with senior quarterback Noah Houk. He’s got great size, a cannon for an arm, and pinpoint accuracy. He will be fun to watch this year.
Behind Houk are two stud tailbacks. TaiJon Smith, a senior, and Chase Rowan, a junior, are very rare talents. Smith is a gazelle in the open field; he has crazy speed and agility. Rowan can also turn on the jets and has unbelievable quickness. Both of these backs are super shifty; they can change direction in a heartbeat and turn on a dime. The challenge for those two will be to stay healthy. If they can avoid the injury bug, they will repeatedly break ankles and turn heads throughout the season.
The receiving corps is vastly underrated. Jaylon Hibbs could be a star; he has the speed to take the top off of opposing secondaries and the size to win jump-ball situations. Slot receiver Michael Ackerman is a quick water-bug in the open field and will wreak havoc on opposing defenses. When you think of Ackerman, think of former stand-out Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas; when the ball gets in his hands, there will be problems. Additionally, senior tight end Davis Kannapell will be hauling in passes over the middle all season. Look for this group of receivers to prove a lot of people wrong this season.
If the offense can stay upright and play with consistency–two big problems for last year’s team–this will be a prolific unit. They can strike in so many ways. Houk and Smith could put up huge numbers and contend for Kentucky Mr. Football. This offense definitely has the weapons, but they will need to prove that they can work as a cohesive unit in order to tap into their full potential.
St. X could be equally as lethal on defense. There are game-changers at each level, and this group could definitely put up a shutout or two.
The defensive backfield will be the strength of this unit. Although no starters return from last year’s secondary, senior safety Tyler Boarman and senior cornerback Davey Sermersheim got a lot of playing time last season and are ready to flourish in their last year as Tigers. Boarman (6’1, 178 lbs.) and Sermersheim (5’10, 165 lbs.) both have fantastic size for their positions and are extremely versatile; both can be thumpers and help stop the run, and they have the speed to sit back and run with any opposing receiver. Boarman is a prototypical centerfielder in the secondary that oversees everything, while Sermersheim is a nasty lock-down corner that will draw, and likely shut down, the other team’s best receiver. Joining those two will be senior safety Jackie Arnold and senior cornerback Brandon Blaser. Arnold is a speed demon with excellent instincts, and Blaser is a big, physical corner that will give opposing receivers fits.
This secondary is special. Remember last season when Bowling Green and quarterback Devin Hayes torched St. X throwing to 2014 Kentucky Mr. Football Nacarius Fant and running back Ellis Cain? That’s not happening on this unit. This group is the perfect mix of physicality and finesse. They can take control of games. They may not be Legion-of-Boom-good, but Boarman and Sermersheim certainly do a decent Earl Thomas-Richard Sherman impersonation. It will be exciting to watch.
Here’s more for you, Tiger Nation: the front seven will be just as good.
The defensive line will be fierce. Senior defensive tackles Carson Kehres and Christian Fell will be disruptive forces, as each will demand double teams if opposing offenses want to keep them out of the backfield. Accompanying them on the line will be defensive ends Will Edwards and Ethan Adams. DISCLAIMER: these guys are scary. Will Edwards is a beast; Ethan Adams is an animal, and he’s only a junior. These defensive ends will have their ears pinned, and they will be in constant, ferocious pursuit of opposing quarterbacks.
The linebacker corps will be a lot different than last year, but don’t expect the production to drop off. Andrew McCormick, Malik Carr, Wes Parker, Spencer Foy, and Evan Caffee were a terrifying group of linebackers last year; they were big, strong, and fast. This year’s linebackers won’t have the size of last year’s, but they bring everything else to the table. Senior Connor Barnes and junior Logan Butler will be the inside linebackers, and they will be everywhere. They play sideline to sideline and will do a lot of damage. They will be accompanied by Dylan McFarland and Clark Campbell on the edge, two more assassins on the edges.
As a whole, the Tiger defense looks to be very promising. Barnes and Butler will be the heart and soul of the unit; they make the players around them better. There is so much talent here, but it remains to be seen if they can put it all together. There’s a ton of potential, but much like the offense, this defense will need to figure out how play together. Defensive coordinator Bart Bruner will have these guys ready to go on August 22nd, but what will separate this defense from others is if the guys on the field play for each other.
As for special teams, it’s pretty straightforward; this unit is pretty good. Once he returns fully healthy from a ruptured spleen, senior kicker Ben Logsdon will be booting field goals of all distances through the uprights. Senior kicker Michael “Big Foot” Bennett will regularly be kicking touchbacks. Senior punter Mason King will constantly be pinning opposing offenses inside their own 20 yard line. St. X has some weapons on special teams.
With so many new players in new positions, some early growing pains should be expected from these Tigers; they likely won’t be great from week one. It will all come down to how well the guys can mesh as a collective unit. If the players learn each other’s tendencies and play for the name on the front of the jersey, this will be a dangerous team. If year two of the Will Wolford Era wants to be more successful than the first, team chemistry will be the catalyst for an energized and eager St. X team.