When next season starts, those players will be sophomores and, according to NV head coach Tommy Byler, expected to play like they have been there before.
“Some of the sophomores will have to step up and play,” said Byler. “Most of our seniors have stepped on the field before, but our juniors are our small class. So, our sophomores have to grow up in a hurry. A lot of the spring has been focused on them.”
The first-year, freshman turnout, though, was just “fair” Byler said.
“We had a small eighth-grade class, so I saw the numbers I was expecting,” he continued. “We’re a little different from everybody else. We already know our younger kids because their on our campus. We have a few less surprises than most schools... There’s nothing we didn’t really expect.”
The Patriots will field a senior quarterback in three-year starter Joe Duhon. Byler said, though, that Duhon’s backup is a key piece of the puzzle that has yet to be ironed out.
“Joe’s one of our best players on defense. We’re limited on what we can do with him until we find a backup,” he said of the athletic Duhon. “Depending on how fast we find (a backup) will determine how much Joe can play defense.”
As far as other seniors are concerned, though, the Patriots will be a little thin, which is reminiscent of last season.
Key losses from last year’s team include tailback Jeremy James, receiver Landon Dupuy and linebacker Tim Baudoin.
Byler said the team should be fine at receiver and tailback, but that the linebacker is still a concern.
“We’re comfortable with one or two linebackers,” he said. “But, some sophomores and juniors are going to have to step up and play.”
This is the second year of a rule banning high school football teams from scrimmaging one another. The Patriots held their spring intrasquad scrimmage on Thursday afternoon. Byler said there is only so much you can learn about your squad in such scrimmages.
“It’s hard to gauge when you can’t scrimmage anybody else,” he said. “With the junior class being small, it’s hard to put the seniors up there with the sophomores and get a true picture. I don’t thik we’ll know anything until fall.”
As for how he feels about his team’s progress this spring, Byler said he is pleased.
“Defensively I think we’re ahead of the game,” he said. “Offensively, we’ve done a lot of tinkering... There’s been a lot of spring learning.”