Losing your starting quarterback is tough, but it happens. It’s normal in football no matter the level.
For Hart football, normal seems like a bit of a stretch this year as they look to not only replace their starting quarterback, but they also have to fill the running back position and two wide receiver positions.
And that’s just on offense.
The Indians will also look to replace numerous positions at defensive back, linebacker and on the defensive line as well.
“We have had to replace people over the years,” said Hart coach Mike Herrington. “Hopefully we will be able to plug them in and they will start off right where the guys from last year left off.”
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Competing for the starting quarterback position is last year’s varsity backup, senior Kyle Wiggins and the starting junior varsity quarterback from last year’s team, Zach Johnson, who will be a junior.
“It’s going good,” Johnson said. “We are splitting reps during practice and kind of just trying to pick up the offense. It’s nothing crazy, you know? I ran the same stuff on JV and (Kyle) obviously learned under JT Shrout last year. We are just running plays, getting reps in and trying to get with everybody so whatever way it falls we both feel comfortable heading into the season.”
Joining Wiggins or Johnson in the backfield will either be back up from last year, Ethan Blair or Brayden York, who sat out last year because he was a transfer from Valencia and was deemed ineligible.
Seniors Michael Colangelo and Jacob Montes will look to fill the open receivers positions that Da’Von Jones and DJ Palmer left when they graduated.
Combining for 45 receptions, 573 yards and a touchdown in 2017, the pair of senior wideouts seem to be ready for the challenge and leading the team on another successful year.
“We can’t mess up this time around,” Montes said. “Last year we had (Jones and Palmer) helping us out, this year we have to be helping everybody else.”
“It’s good we have a lot of great athletes out there,” Colangelo said. “It’s great to challenge each other and then when we get to the game, it’s going to be a good mesh and rotation going around, so I think it will be good.”
Colangelo and Montes will also line up on the defensive side of the ball. Colangelo will be at defensive back and Montes, who played at defensive back last year, will play outside linebacker.
“It was a little rough at first making the switch from the DB position, but I’m getting it and I’ll be good by the time the season comes around,” Montes said.
Joining Montes at the linebacker position will be incoming junior Leighton McCarthy, a Bishop Alemany transfer, who will be a mainstay at the middle linebacker position.
“Oh, it’s good,” McCarthy said. “I knew a lot of these guys previously before coming here so it’s a good transition. I really like the program a lot better. I fit in really well, I just really like it.”
Ashton Thomas will also be joining the Indians this year as he transferred from Chaminade earlier this summer. Thomas will play a variety of positions between receiver and running back depending on the situation.
Senior lineman Jacob Jaramillo will look to anchor a young defensive line plugging up holes that CJ McMullen and Nathan Bradder left.
“We have a young team so we have to work with what we have,” Jaramillo said. “Us older guys have to take the responsibility. We have to tell them how stuff works and all that, so pretty much it’s just teaching the younger kids to up their tempo and get to where we are right now because there are not too many seniors.”
The expectation this year playing for Hart football is the same as it has always been, and the players all have a next-man-up mentality.
“I think that it’s a good cohesive unit,” Herrington said. “I think we are going to play some good team football and our guys know that they have to do it as a group, not as individuals.”