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Tiger Football Spring Practice #9

Noah Houk | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Noah Houk | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

The last spring practice before the spring game was yesterday afternoon and I spoke with two members of the special teams unit for Tiger Football.  Ben Logsdon and Mason King along with Michael Bennett look to lead a strong third phase of the game this fall in hopes to give the Tigers an extra edge in a game that is a matter of inches.

Listen up to their expectations and thoughts heading into the summer and 2014 season.

Ben Logsdon

Mason King

 

Tiger Football Spring Practice #7

We are just 2 DAYS away from the Tiger Football Green/Gold Game and the WSTX Sports team was back checking out practice yesterday.  Improvement can be seen all around with the fundamentals starting to lay a foundation for this young team.  I spoke with numerous members of the team and here are their comments on the season ahead and expectations for what’s to come.

Michael Ackerman

Davey Sermersheim

Tyler Boarman

Jackie Arnold

More:
Nathan Scheler and Tyler Haycraft
Davis Kannapell
Will Edwards
Michael Sehlinger

REMINDER: Tiger Football Green/Gold Game is Thursday May 22 at 5:30 PM at Br. Thomas More Stadium.

Green/Gold Spring Football Game is Thursday

Commitment to Excellence

It’s that time of the year again, when Tiger Football puts the pads on and goes up against one another on a beautiful May evening. The annual Green/Gold Spring Football Game is set for this Thursday at 5:30 PM at Br. Thomas More Stadium and you’re invited. Admission and parking are free for all on a first-come, first serve basis, so arrive early if you want a good seat and a short walk from your vehicle.

The format will be the same as years past. It will feature a mixture of the first teams and second teams going head to head in a game type atmosphere.  They have been scrimmaging one another often throughout the past few weeks, but there will certainly be a little more juice in the engines as they wind down the 2014 spring football season.  This will be the last practice until July, so all of the guys will look to impress and make a push for certain positions.

Football is here. I’m sure the players wouldn’t mind seeing a Rage Cage in attendance.

Go Tigers!

Tiger Football Spring Practice #4 Photo Gallery

Tiger Football Spring Practice #4

Spring Practice #4 was the second day of full pads practice for the Tiger Football team.  Today we spoke with two of the projected starting defensive linemen for the Tigers, Ethan Adams and Carson Kehres about their expectations and thoughts on Spring Ball 2014 and the season ahead in the fall.

Ethan Adams

Carson Kehres

Tiger Football Spring Practice #3

Spring Practice #3 brought more improvement for the Tiger Football team.  The projected one-two punch for the rushing game this year for the Tigers is Taijon Smith and Chase Rowan, but both are members of the Tiger Track team and are not participating in Spring Practice this year.

So yesterday, I spoke with Senior Wes Taylor and Jack Doherty.  Wes is always a great interview about what he expects out of the Tiger Running Backs even though he just moved to the position.  You might remember him from his end of the year lacrosse interview last year.  Take a look at some of Jack and Wes’ expectations and feelings heading into Spring Football 2014.

Wes Taylor

Jack Doherty

2014 Tiger Football Position-by-Position Preview: Linebackers

Part two in a ten part series previewing the 2014 St. Xavier Football Tigers: Linebackers

Kyle Oliver, Dylan McFarland, Clark Campbell and Connor Barnes will lead the Tiger Defense from the linebacker position | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Kyle Oliver, Dylan McFarland, Clark Campbell and Connor Barnes will lead the Tiger Defense from the linebacker position | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

DEPTH CHART

LOLB: Clark Campbell

SLB: Kyle Oliver

MLB: Connor Barnes

ROLB: Dylan McFarland

THE MAN

Connor Barnes

SPRING PRACTICE BATTLES

Barnes is safe, but seniors Trace Amshoff, Parker Maddox, and junior Logan Butler will be seeking to unseat one of the other seniors at the top of the depth chart.

NEWCOMERS

Clark Campbell

Logan Butler

OVERVIEW

There’s no hiding from it; replacing Andrew McCormick, Spencer Foy, Wes Parker, Malik Carr, and Evan Caffee all at once is almost an impossible task.  Faced with the daunting proposition of filling the shoes of one of the best linebacker corps in recent Tiger Football history, this year’s linebackers have their work cut out for them.  However, there is more than a fair share of bright spots.

You couldn’t choose a better rock to start the reloading process than Connor Barnes.  He’s big (6’2″ , 190 lbs.) and quick with superior instincts off the snap of the ball.  When we talk about a middle linebacker, he is essentially the heart and soul of the defense, the quarterback on the other side of the ball.  The middle linebacker is the coach on the field during games, and all the other players on defense play off of him.  You can’t really have better intangibles than Barnes possesses.  He’s enthusiastic yet humble, and all he wants to do is get on the field and in the weight room and get better, faster, and stronger.  He’s also dealt with injuries for multiple periods in seasons prior, so he is used to toughing it out while being nicked up.  If you wanted to make a mold of what an inside linebacker should be, you make a mold of Connor Barnes.

Sam linebacker Kyle Oliver candidly summed his thoughts on his role: “A linebacker’s job is to set the tone.”  And, wouldn’t you know it, Oliver can definitely set a tone for the defense.  He’s a bit undersized (6’0″, 190 lbs.), but what he gives up in size he more than makes up for with pure grit.  He is tough as nails and shies away from no one; his game isn’t always pretty, but it’s effective.  Plain and simple, this is a guy you want to go to war with.

The most interesting two players to watch, however, may be the two outside linebackers.  Although Clark Campbell is a senior, he is still a newcomer in the sense that this season will be his first playing on the defensive side of the ball, as he bounced around the wide receiver and running back positions in his first three seasons.  He could become a stalwart from his position on the left edge of the defense, as his elite athleticism will make him a demon coming off the edge.  Although he might need to add some weight to his body over the course of the season to have better bulk and avoid injuries, Campbell has major potential; he has the speed and agility to cover tight ends or even slot receivers one-on-one, while still packing enough power to shed blocks and make plays in space against an opponent’s running game.  His pure quickness and athleticism could prove to make him a ferocious pass-rusher, too.  We will have to see just how defensive coordinator Bart Bruner utilizes Campbell, but one thing is for sure; Coach Bruner should be extremely excited to plug this athlete into the defensive equation.

In addition to being critically-acclaimed for his numerous vines, Dylan McFarland also has the potential to become an absolute stud on the right side of the defense.  Of all the linebackers, McFarland most closely resembles the pillars that are graduating from a size standpoint (6’2″, 202 lbs.).  The thing that could potentially turn McFarland into a star is his deceptive speed and agility for his size; as a junior last season, McFarland was able to make some huge hits covering kickoffs because he was able to generate such a huge amount of force in such a small amount of time using his size and speed.  Much like Campbell, McFarland could potentially supply valuable versatility as a guy who can be a monster stopping the run, blowing up blocks and neutralizing an entire side of an offense line, and also pin his ears back and be an animal rushing the passer.

While these linebackers don’t bring to the table the size that characterized last year’s group, they do bring just as much, if not more, speed and quickness to the equation.  Barnes and Oliver are guys who can cover sideline-to-sideline, and the outside linebackers could become downright scary.  If I’m Coach Bruner looking at this group of guys, I am licking my chops and chomping at the bit to see just how good the group can get.

As long as Barnes stays healthy, this unit could shape up to be a pretty darn good linebacker corps.  Without a doubt, the x-factor is the outside linebackers.  Campbell and McFarland have the ability to take this group to the next level and change the way teams approach the Tiger defense as a whole, and they are excited to start to bring that vision to life.  In the words of Campbell, “I think we are going to shock a lot of people.”

Next up: Running Backs

Part One: Quarterbacks

Tiger Football Spring Practice #2

Spring Practice #2 went off without a hitch and today, I spoke with the linebackers plus we were able to re-interview Sophomore Quarterback Desmond Ridder.  Take a look at some of their expectations and feelings heading into Spring Football 2014.

Connor Barnes

Clark Campbell

Vine Famous Dylan McFarland

Kyle Oliver

Desmond Ridder

Quotes from Yesterday’s Spring Practice #1

Tiger Quarterbacks Noah Houk and A.J. Breit take a snap during the first spring practice of the year | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Tiger Quarterbacks Noah Houk and A.J. Breit take a snap during the first spring practice of the year | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Spring Practice began yesterday with the team in helmets and shoulder pads eagerly awaiting the start of playing some more football! We’re three months away from the season kicking off, but everyone is looking forward to a great fall season of Tiger Football!

“In spring, you spend a lot of time just teaching the base techniques, but you also spend a lot of time getting to know the kids. Getting to find out a lot about them in full pads. You know, there’s no pressure so it’s very enjoyable.”

Heading into his second year as head coach of the Tigers, Coach Will Wolford is ready to take his game along with team’s to the next level.

“The great thing about football is that you never know everything.  You can always learn and work to get better as a coach and as a player.  All the situations are always different and the players are always going to be different.  The situations on the field are never exactly the same. The ball has a funny shape and it never bounces the way you think it’s going to.”

“I’m looking forward to improving in every area and it’s a lot easier this time of year than last year because I know more than just the kids’ names.  Last year I was a big scrambler. I was just trying to find out your number is what? Your name is what? You play what? There’s so many of them! Even though we have a ton of kids running around out there now, it’s not as many as last year.  It makes it a little more easier and certainly makes it more enjoyable.”

A new starting quarterback will be under center for the Tigers in 2014, but a familiar name.  Noah Houk will lead the offensive attack for St. Xavier this fall and after the first day of practice he reflected on the opportunity in front of him this year.

“It feels pretty good. Ever since I was a little boy, going to St. X football games, I’ve always dreamed of playing football and starting at quarterback.  It’s definently a great honor and I’m really excited for the season.”

All of those games he went to when he was younger were probably with his dad who is a former starting quarterback for St. X as well and current quarterback coach for the team now.  I’m pretty certain Noah got the quarterback gene from his father because he looks and talks like one, but most importantly he carries himself like one. As a leader.

“For me, leadership has kind of been my main thing, I’ve always felt like I’m a pretty good leader. I’m not the most vocal guy out there.  I’ve never thought I was the best player out on the field, I’ve always just tried to out work everybody and lead by example.  Basically I think, if I’m out there busting my butt, then everybody else is going to want to bust their butt.”

Houk will have to lead a lot of new players that are unfamiliar with the Varsity level and its speed, but he is not worried about the loss of playmakers on offense such as Charles Walker and Luke Hayden.

“I’m expecting big things.  I don’t expect any drop off from last year talent wise.  I know we’re a little underrated and we’re losing a lot of talent from that graduating senior class, which was tremendously talented, but I strongly feel that we are just as good as they were and we can compete with anybody.  My class has beaten Trinity, we’ve beaten all of them, so there’s no doubt in my mind that we can compete with everybody on our schedule.”

The confidence is there and he is going to need it because with every season comes adversity and that has been frequent around St. X football in the past.  His positivity was evident the whole time we spoke and that should get Tiger Nation excited.

“What I’m looking forward to most is just the Friday night football games under the lights.  Going out there in front of everybody, just playing football, having fun with all the guys.  With it being St. X High School and St. X Football, every year it’s state championship or bust.  It’s been a little while, but we all have a hungry taste in our mouth.  Our goal is to win a state championship and we’re working our butts off to achieve that goal.”

The kid just gets it.  His leadership is rubbing off onto his projected apprentice, Junior A.J. Breit who was the starter for the JV team last season.

“Noah’s a great quarterback and I hope it never comes to that, but if he went down, I feel like I could step up and help the team win.  It’s great learning from a guy like Noah, so if he goes down I feel confident.  Ability wise, It’s a big transition from JV to Varsity and speed wise.  I feel like my abilities are capable of playing at the Varsity level, but of course I’m going to practice a lot.  The major thing I’m trying to work on is footwork and getting faster, which I’ve been working on this off season and gaining weight.”

Breit must be drinking the same Kool-Aid as Houk because he is dreaming big, too.

“I think we have a lot of potential. We take it one game at a time, but our ultimate goal is winning a state championship.

Tiger Football Spring Practice #1 Photo Gallery

2014 Tiger Football Position-by-Position Preview: Quarterbacks

Part one in a ten part series previewing the 2014 St. Xavier Football Tigers: Quarterbacks

Noah Houk warms up against Lexington Catholic last season | WSTX Sports File Photo

Noah Houk warms up against Lexington Catholic last season | WSTX Sports File Photo

The signal callers are arguably the most important part of a team.  They are the leader on and off the field and is who everyone looks to when a big play needs to be made.  Tiger Football has a great one stepping into graduated B.J. Nagle’s shoes this season.  Houk had significant playing time during 2013 as he went back and forth with Nagle under center, but this season the team is his.  All off-season long, you could find Noah putting in extra work with the wide receivers and running backs along with his father, legendary St. X quarterback Jeff Houk, who is an assistant coach for the Tigers.

DEPTH CHART

Noah Houk 6-4, 190 Sr.
A.J. Breit 5-11, 150 Jr.
Desmond Ridder 6-3 160 So.
Corey Chitwood 5-10, 150 Jr.

THE MAN

Noah Houk

SPRING PRACTICE BATTLES

Backup QB: Will A.J. Breit or Desmond Ridder come out on top?

NEWCOMERS

Desmond Ridder

OVERVIEW

“With it being St. X High School and St. X Football, every year it’s state championship or bust.” – Noah Houk

St. X will be in good hands with Houk.  On just the first practice of the season, you could already see him driving balls into tight windows with pinpoint accuracy and solid velocity.  Ridder mentioned that his biggest goal of the spring is to improve his footwork since it is crucial for quarterbacks because the way they move their feet directly affects the velocity and accuracy of the throw.  To be consistently accurate and precise with passes, a quarterback has to have proper motion from the ground up, so it’s great to see Ridder and the guys are focusing on key areas of their games.

Breit is making the jump from JV to Varsity, and he mentioned his biggest goal was to get bigger and stronger to help his transition to the much-faster pace of varsity high school football.  One thing the coaching staff really stressed during the first spring practice was “throwing the receiver open.”  This takes a sharp mental clock and chemistry with receivers, so as spring practice moves on, look for all the quarterbacks to improve in this area as well as they begin to build a relationship with their receivers and backs.

All in all, it was a promising start for the Tiger Quarterbacks.  They will continue to progress without doubt as the season gets closer and closer, and Coach Houk will have these guys ready to come out guns-a-blasin’ when St. X opens their season against Ballard on Friday, August 22nd at Br. Thomas More Stadium.

Next up: Linebackers

Tiger Football Spring Practice #1

Spring Practice #1 is in the books for Tiger Football and today, I spoke with the quarterbacks and the second year head coach, Will Wolford.  Take a look at some of their expectations and feelings heading into Spring Football 2014.

Head Coach Will Wolford

Starting Quarterback Noah Houk

Junior Quarterback A.J. Breit

We had some technical difficulties with Sophomore Quarterback Desmond Ridder’s interview, but we hope to speak with him again tomorrow!

2014 Spring Ball Preview: Defense

Let’s take a look at what is in store for Tiger Football’s defense!  There will be a lot of turnover on this side of the ball for St. X, as every defensive starter graduated and only a few juniors got significant playing time.  There will inevitably be a lot of new faces, so let’s meet them.

Tyler Boarman will be roaming the secondary and stuffing the run | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Tyler Boarman will be roaming the secondary and stuffing the run | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Outlook

New names will be the story all spring long as Tiger Football will look to replace a huge portion of their production from last year on the defensive side of the ball.  Todd Walsh will no longer be the defensive coordinator for Coach Wolford, and the base 3-4 scheme that St. X ran most of its defense out of last season could very well be changed.

The front seven will be the most interesting part of the Tiger defense to watch this spring.  The wealth of linebackers that anchored the defense last year–Malik Carr, Spencer Foy, Wes Parker, Evan Caffee, and Andrew McCormick–will not be around.  The hosses on the line that made life very difficult for opposing quarterbacks–Skylar Robinson, Clay Schaefer, and Lenny Broyles–will also be gone.  It will be up to a number of juniors and sophomores to impact the line of scrimmage and the trenches the way the departing seniors did last season.

St. X does, however, have some help returning in the secondary; look for this area of the defense to be a strong point of the unit.  Although cornerbacks Russ Miller and Dekota Jones graduate–along with safeties Ryan Askin and Blake Isaacs–there are some guys that will not be new to playing under the Friday night lights.

Dekota Jones' presence in the secondary as well as the return game will be missed | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

Dekota Jones’ presence in the secondary as well as the return game will be missed | Photo by Jacob Hayslip

 

Players to Watch

As we eluded to earlier, it all starts in the secondary for the Tiger defense this year.  St. X will have one half of the field locked down at all times with one guy this season, senior cornerback Davey Sermersheim.  He will shut down opposing teams’ best wide receiver, and he will be a tremendous luxury to have this coming season, as there will be talented wide receivers all over Kentucky High School Football–most notably Male’s Keion Wakefield.  Not to mention, Sermershein will also be a threat in the return game.

Sermershein will be joined by a fellow senior, safety  Tyler Boarman.  Boarman is another member of the secondary who got valuable playing experience in pressure moments.  He will not only be crucial in coverage–a prototypical centerfielder in the defensive backfield with speed to burn–but also in stopping the run, as his big 6’2″, 185 pound frame will allow him to come up and play like an extra linebacker when needed.  He will bring valuable versatility to the Tiger secondary.

Add safety Jackie Arnold, an absolute thoroughbred who can match any receiver or tight end step-for-step, and cornerback Brandon Blaser, another big, physical corner with deceptive speed and agility, to the mix, and you get a tantalizing blend of physicality and finesse in St. X’s secondary.  Arnold missed most of last season with a shouder injury, and Blaser was held out for most of the season as well with mononucleosis; although Blaser is currently an infielder on the baseball team and will miss the first part of the spring, he will eventually join Arnold, who started conditioning just over a month ago, back in pads soon enough.

Thanks to the loaded secondary, St.X will be able to use their size to play tough, bump-and-run press coverage as well as a soft, cover-2 technique with their speed.

It will be interesting to watch how the front seven will shape up.  No matter what scheme we end up seeing on opening night, you can bet on seeing senior linebacker Connor Barnes in the middle of it.  Barnes has been nicked up for parts of both his sophomore and junior season, but his lean frame–6’2″, 190 lbs.–along with superior quickness and burst, should allow him to anchor the defense.  Look for him to take up a leadership position, much like McCormick’s last season, as well.

Look for good competition in spring practice to see who ends up joining Barnes in the linebacker corps.  Dylan McFarland, Kyle Oliver, Parker Maddox, and Logan Butler are all candidates to fill the vacant spots.

The defensive line is where it will get even more interesting.  If the Tigers end up staying in a 3-4 front, look for senior Will Edwards and junior Ethan Adams to wreak havoc from the defensive end positions, as they will be screaming off the edges snap after snap hunting for opposing quarterbacks.  Whether we see one or two defensive tackles come fall, expect some mix of seniors Carson Kehres and Christian Fell to blow up the run game.  Add in junior Tucker Donlon, and St. X just might have enough bodies to replace the huge losses due to graduation.  Those three giants will command consistent double–and triple, when they are angry–teams all game long.

New defensive coordinator Bart Bruner will no doubt have his hands full this spring, but St. X definitely has enough talent to feature another strong defensive unit this fall.  There is a lot of uncertainty to be addressed this spring for the Tiger defense, so keep it locked on wstxsports.com for all the updates on St. X’s defense as well as other storylines.

2014 Spring Ball Preview: Offense

From Left to Right: Noah Houk, Jaylon Hibbs, Michael Ackerman, Clark Campbell and Davey Sermersheim | Photo by Davey Sermersheim

(From Left to Right) Noah Houk, Jaylon Hibbs, Michael Ackerman, Clark Campbell and Davey Sermersheim participated together in a 7 on 7 tournament for Team PTP in Indianapolis, IN. | Photo by Davey Sermersheim

Let’s take a look at what is in store for Tiger Football’s offense when Spring Practice commences!  A lot of new faces will be seen on this side of the ball in 2014 and a new permanent starting quarterback in Noah Houk.  He saw a lot of time last season, but looks to make the team his own this year!  Who’s ready for some spring Tiger Football!?

Outlook

New faces will be the storyline all spring long as Tiger Football looks to fill a ton of gaps on the offensive side of the ball.  With Do-It-All Charles Walker graduated and the other two heads of the montser, Treyveon Percell and Austin Davis, also heading to college, who fills in for them?  Look no further than junior Chase Rowan and senior Taijon Smith. Smith rushed for 252 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2013 and Rowan added 12 yards and 2 touchdowns to the rushing attack.  Running backs coach and offensive coordinator is very high on these two and think they can bring a great running game to the table this season.  Remember though, neither will participate in spring practice due to Rowan’s injury and Smith’s participation with Tiger Track.

The Wide Receiver corps also will have a ton of new names to be learned from now until August.  Seniors Jaylon Hibbs and Michael Ackerman headline the wide outs in 2014, but you won’t see Hibbs until the fall because of Track, too.  Look for Mason King and Clark Campbell to also be major weapons for starting quarterback Noah Houk.  Younger guys will have plenty of opportunities to step up and claim some playing time this spring before they head to fall camp due to players in other spring sports.

Houk will lead the Tigers into battle this season after splitting time with transfer QB B.J. Nagle a year ago.  Noah passed for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns during his junior season as a Tiger.  You may remember him from the Central game during the 2013 season when he took over the reigns mid way through the second quarter and drove the length of the field to take the lead over the yellow jackets, which confirmed that he can be the man for the job during his senior season.  He follows in the footsteps of his dad, Jeff Houk who is an assistant coach for St. Xavier, as a starting quarterback for the Tigers.  Noah is a very vocal leader that has all the intangibles that a great high school quarterback needs.  Standing 6’4″, he will be able to command the offense effectively and have a breakout season this fall.

Players to Watch

We mentioned a lot of the playmakers that will make an impact on offense already, but there are some other guys that will make noise for the Tigers that we will keep a close eye on and their progression over the spring football season.

Senior center Nathan Scheler will be the leader of the offensive line this year.  His leadership and healthiness will be a huge factor in the Tigers success.  He is joined by fellow senior Tyler Haycraft on the line who return from a massive group last season that mostly graduated.  Their experience will help mold the younger big men into protecting the Tiger attack.

Desmond Ridder and Blake Roshkowski are two sophomores to pay attention to.  Ridder started the majority of the freshman games at quarterback last season and has developed nicely over the offseason after hitting the weight room hard and getting faster running track.  He looks to battle junior A.J. Breit for the second string quarterback spot.  Roshkowski is a member of the varsity Tiger Lacrosse team and will probably not participate much in spring ball, but will be a young guy that will contribute to the rushing game at the running back position this fall (he is the brother of former wide receiver Will Roshkowski).  Austin Eisert bounced around positions from quarterback to receiver on the freshman level and will also be a contributor with his athleticism somewhere on the field.

Tight End is a spot that the Tigers have had a lot of great playmakers at over the years and especially last season with both Sam Gray and Evan Shaheen making a lot of big plays.  David Palmer and Davis Kannapell are two guys to watch for in the Tight End position battle.  One of former defensive coordinator Todd Walsh’s new responsibilities is coaching the Tight Ends, so he will be in charge of the maturation of these two guys over the spring.

 

Spring Practice: What to Watch For

2014 Spring Game Landscape

Year #2 of the Will Wolford Era gets underway shortly with hopes to add on to the season that was a year ago! Many off-season moves have been made over the past 150+ days since the Tigers fell to Male in the playoffs.  Many have been reported right here on WSTXSports.com and some others have been kept on the down low.  These have all been decisions that have moved the program in the right direction and towards its ultimate goal: winning a state championship! For the next 3 weeks, WSTX Sports’ hard-hitting journalism will be at its finest; here are some story lines you should expect to see frequently.

Offense

Who will be Noah Houk’s weapons? There were nine senior wide receivers on the roster for the Tigers in the fall of 2013 and all made contributions to the receiving game.  This year the team will have a huge influx of names and faces we haven’t heard of yet on the varsity level.  Mason King, Andrew Walker and Michael Ackerman look to be two big names to keep a look out for this spring.  You won’t see them at practice, yet, but Jaylon Hibbs and Colin O’Daniel also pose to be leading receivers this fall.  They are members of the Tiger Track team and will compete with them as they chase a state championship of their own while spring practice is happening.

Replacing John Kurtz, Ryan Karrer and Austin Askin. These three mountains all have moved on to the next level and leave a gaping hole in the middle of the Tigers’ offensive line.  Seniors-to-be Nathan Scheler and Tyler Haycraft return from the 2013 campaign and will lead the St. X offense at the line of scrimmage.  These are spots on the team that will be battled for during spring practice and we will make sure to keep close tabs on, for you.  New offensive line coach, Adam Billings, will have plenty of young talent to work with and the pieces to help replace three of the Tigers’ best offensive linemen in recent history.

Another monster backfield. Taijon Smith and Chase Rowan headline the Tigers’ rushing attack for 2014, but both will not participate in spring ball.  Rowan injured himself while practicing with the Tiger Track team earlier this spring and is still recovering.  Smith, like Rowan, O’Daniel and Hibbs, is a member of the Tiger Track program as well and will be competing in various events in state competition.  John Martinez and Jack Dougherty are expected to take many of the reps over the next few weeks in practice.  With Smith and Rowan missing, it will give some younger guys a chance to prove they can carry the load if something were to happen to Smith or Rowan during the season.

Defense

Welcome to Sermersheim Island. Davey Sermersheim returns to lead the Tigers’ secondary at the corner position.  He will be a big factor in the success of the defense this season with the help of fellow senior Tyler Boarman at safety.  Some holes need to be filled at this position and depth will need to be added here at a spot that some say was a weakness of last season’s team.

Bruner returns. New defensive coordinator Bart Bruner is not so new.  He stepped down as an assistant at the same time former head coach Mike Glaser did, but has returned this season to help re-load the Tiger defense.  He brings a lot of experience to a relatively young team and secondary, which will be huge in the development of those guys this spring.  His high energy, high intensity also is great in the weight room, motivating players to get the best out of themselves.

Who fills Skylar and Clay’s shoes? The defensive line will look for new tenants this season to hold down the fort at the line of scrimmage much like their big friends on the o-line.  Ethan Adams will be a playmaker to keep a look out for here along with Christian Fell and Tucker Donlon.