Year two of Ron Crawford’s second campaign at Brentwood will be focused on one thing: toughness.
Improving the team as a whole and being able to fight through the tough challenges the Bruins will face in 5A is at the top of Crawford’s priority list this fall.
“We’re still in the process of trying to find tough guys, mentally and physically,” he said.
Brentwood lost a great amount of experience on both sides of the ball, but the Bruins have talented players waiting to fill the shoes of those departed, Crawford said.
Two juniors will compete for the quarterback job, with Carson Shacklett and Kaden Dreier battling it out during fall camp. Shacklett looks to have the advantage, but Dreier will see practice reps and game action as well.
“We feel great about both quarterbacks,” he said.
Running the football will be senior Collin Rudolph and junior Matthew Phillips, both of whom are relatively new to the position but have the ability to make plays. Phillips played receiver a year ago, but both have been in the system and know what’s expected. Junior Mason Keidel will be the team’s H-back, operating as a true fullback in the offense, Crawford said.
Two starters return in the receiving corps, with seniors Christian LaBreche and Will Leone back to stretch the defense, while senior Parker Bullion and junior Grant Yocam will rotate in as well.
Seniors Braxton McGill, Zack Connelly and Chris Moore return on the offensive line for the Bruins, while juniors Blake Myers, Cole Mabry and Gavin Robb will fill out the rest of the front line.
“We feel good about those six,” Crawford said. “We’ve worked a lot of guys, and we’ve had to rely on a couple sophomores to create depth.”
Myers and Keidel likely will play on the defensive line as well, and Burton Dahl and Henry Brothers will be in the mix on the defensive front.
The linebacker corps is full of seniors, with returning starter Will Stanworth on the inside, along with Luke Reidy, Adam Martin and Sims Bell also on the second level of the defense. In addition, junior C.J. Grissim will work in at inside linebacker.
The secondary will feature three potential starters at cornerback, in seniors Xavier Howard, Zach Thompson and Brandon Hasenpflug, none of whom saw varsity action in 2015, Crawford said. Zack Barnitt and Brice Merrell will man the safety spots, with Merrell moving to defense only this fall after playing at receiver last season.
“Our inexperience on defense is a concern, especially with our opener (against Independence),”
Crawford said. “We’re very inexperienced in the secondary, but we’ve got good competition going on at a lot of spots.”
Special teams will be the least of Crawford’s worries, with the dynamic leg of Tucker Day returning to handle both punting and place kicking. His ability to pin the other team deep and connect on long field goals gives the Bruins a decided advantage on special teams.
“Sometimes I think we rely on him too much,” he said.