Five senior players and their coaches are beginning their third year together on University High’s football team.
As captains of this year’s Titan team, the five are being asked to contribute more on the field and off.
Jeff Hollenbach and Mike Clark will start in the offensive and defensive line. Linebackers Mike Rosa and Jason Daniel will share fullback on offense as well.
Only Casey Cornelius will play one way because he’s the quarterback.
And their roles as captains mean providing leadership and helping teammates in any way they can.
“We have to keep everybody in line, communicate and keep the intensity high,” said Hollenbach.
Added Cornelius, “We also work as tutors, helping teammates with their needs in the classroom.”
That tight-knit community spirit is what coach Mike Ganey has tried to develop in his program.
“We have a strong senior class and want to change expectations on as well as off the field,” he said.
University will do more two-platooning in an effort to have the best players in the game. Last summer U-Hi was successful in 7-on-7 football and several players won awards at the University of Idaho contact camp.
Mike Roberg was most valuable player at tight end. The 6-foot-5 240 pounder also be a defensive linemen. Junior Tim Buchanan was all-camp running back and MVP defender.
Cornelius was all-camp quarterback, Daniel all-camp linebacker and junior two-way lineman Zaq Flanary was most improved on defense.
They are among starters that include center Don Wetzbarger, tackle Jeff Schmedding, running back/linebacker Bryon McMurtrey and receivers/defensive backs Joe Jefferies, Ryan Massey, Kurt Moore, Jason Berger and Cody Hirschi.
Justin Chissus and Ryan McWilliams will play defensive line, Sean Sater is a linebacker and Brad Nollmeyer, Mike Turner, Jason Bright are in the secondary.
Ten of 11 starters are from Horizon Junior High and the five captains are at the center of the unit.
Hollenbach started two years at offensive guard for U-Hi before getting the call on defense this year.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “The biggest thing is working on endurance.”
He did. The 220 pounder was third in the team mile at 6:02.
Cornelius shared quarterback duties both his sophomore and junior years. Last season a sore shoulder limited his duty, but this year he is ready, backed by junior Rob Bartlett.
“I was here at 7 a.m. every morning lifting weights and running routes with receivers,” he said.
Fullback is something new for Rosa.
“I tried it in junior high but they never let me carry the ball,” he said. “The position was pretty well taken.”
Instead, he beat out Hollenbach in the offensive line.
“Mike stole my position in the ninth grade but I got it back as a sophomore,” Hollenbach said.
Clark learned quickly the Army adage that you don’t volunteer for anything. He raised his hand when coaches asked for a center and played it through junior high.
At U-Hi he was moved to guard and since has played both offense and defense.
All four hope that a summer of hard work, that Clark said began a week after school was out, can translate into a solid season.
“I think everyone got together among themselves and said we’ve got to change things,” said Cornelius.
“We need to get some wins under our belt,” said Hollenbach. “Once we do that we’ll be OK.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: U-HI SCHEDULE Sept. 8 Eisenhower at U-Hi, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 U-Hi vs. Ferris at Albi, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 CV at U-Hi, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29 U-Hi vs. Mead at Albi, 5:45 p.m. Oct. 5 U-Hi vs. Rogers at Albi, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 U-Hi vs. NC at Albi, 5 p.m. Oct. 20 U-Hi vs. Shadle at Albi, 8:30 p.m. Oct. 27 U-Hi vs. G-Prep at Albi, 5:45 p.m. Nov. 3 LC at U-Hi, 7:30 p.m.