New look for Huskies
There are a couple of changes around the Highland football team this season.
The Huskies have been bumped up to 1A in the state football classifications, and after graduating multiple seniors, will be young in 2014.
One thing that will remain constant? A Wood will be under center.
Jake Wood will take over for graduating Kody Wood as the top quarterback this season, and after a solid campaign for the junior varsity team last season, Jake’s coach thinks the sophomore will be ready to handle the varsity action.
“Jake played JV quarterback last year and did a wonderful job,” Highland football head coach Tony Johnson said. “You always want to have a quarterback in each grade, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Chase Rath can also play quarterback, and the great thing about him is that he is a phenomenal athlete, so he can play other positions. Jake’s put a lot of work in this summer to be the starting quarterback, and the great thing about it for Jake is, he got to watch and learn from his brother for two years.”
Last season, Kody passed for 1073 yards and 10 touchdowns, with a completion percentage of 55.8 percent in 2013. The elder Wood also was the second leading rusher on the team, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and a team-high eight touchdowns on the ground.
Jake had limited action last season, but in his five rushes, averaged 9.4 yards per carry to go with a touchdown.
The leading rusher last season, Brian Garcia (670 yards, 6.3 yards per carry), will be returning to the Huskies backfield this season, and will be joined by senior Josh Kasparek (10 rushes, 33 yards, two touchdowns in 2013).
“Having Brian back is huge,” Johnson said. “It’s always great when you can run the ball, because then you can keep that clock going, but we’ll run some no-huddle, we’ll go fast. There are always question marks, but if we can run the ball, we are going to do that, but if a team takes the run away, we can throw and vice versa.”
In the passing game, the top two receiving weapons from 2013 are no longer on the team due to graduation, leaving a void open for a younger player to step up.
“There are always kids who step up, and doing seven-on-seven all summer I’m able to get a feel for the skill position guys,” Johnson said. “One kid who really got after it this summer was Tony Olguin. He was an X receiver for us and a corner, and tried to work his way onto the field a lot last year, and this year, he’s been a staple for us. He’s going to play some two-back for us, some receiver and linebacker for us.”
Last season, as a sophomore, Olguin caught six passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
With the jump up to 1A, it will bring new challenges to the Huskies, but Johnson said the team has been preparing for this all offseason.
“We met as a staff and team in March after we found out we were moving up, and we made some decisions that we were going to have to get better right now,” Johnson said. “We implemented a new lifting program and they did a great job of getting after it from March to this summer. This is the best offseason we’ve ever had since I’ve been at Highland. The kids are taking it head on, and the position is open. They are working hard to try and get (into those positions).”
Highland opens up its season on Aug. 29 at Danville.