Note: We’re spotlighting a Class B or C team each week. The schools are going to shoot interviews and video from practices or games, which we will then edit and post online at gazprepsports.com. I’ll get some comments from the coach, so we can attach a blog to the video. Up this week: The Huntley Project Red Devils.
The offensive formations may have changed for the Huntley Project football team, but the results have mostly stayed the same.
Guy Croy has taken over the reins after longtime coach Jay Santy retired from the head job in the spring. With him, Croy brought a pro-style offense that relies more on the passing game than Santy’s offense did.
“We’re a little further along than I thought we would be,” admitted the first-year coach. “The kids have had a good summer and really taken the offense and grown with the system, understanding alignments and assignments.”
The Red Devils “took one on the chin at Malta” as Croy says but have since won their last two games by a combined score of 97-29, including last week’s District 4B opener against Joliet. Junior running back Chase Mitchell accumulated 326 yards from scrimmage and five total touchdowns against the J-Hawks.
“He is just really getting better and better as the season has gone on,” Croy said of the 6-0, 165-pound Mitchell. “We put him all over the field. Chase is very explosive, off to a great start.”
Mitchell, who has rushed for 471 yards in three games this season, is just one of a handful of weapons for Croy’s offense directed by junior quarterback Tanner Oblender. Oblender has the distinction of being the only offensive starter who is playing the same position as last season.
“He has really taken it and just keeps growing within the system and understanding what we’re trying to do,” Croy said. “Last week, I think we threw 22 times, and I think that might have been a (season’s worth of passes) before that. He’s doing a great job of learning the offense and making it go.”
The offense seems to be improving each week, but Croy said defense remains the key for his squad, especially in Friday’s game at Roundup. The Panthers are 3-0, having scored 35, 40, and 40 points in the three games.
“Roundup will be a good test. They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, and they’re a good football team,” Croy said. “They’ve scored over 40 points a couple of times, so it starts defensively. They’ve got some good kids in the backfield that are running hard.”
Huntley Project’s defense starts with inside linebacker Jarrett Charlton. Charlton was an all-conference player on defense last year and is one of three returning starters for the Red Devils. He leads the team in tackles and acts as a co-captain with Mitchell, Oblender, and fullback/middle linebacker Koni Dole.
“With us being so young and inexperienced, every game we expect to get better and make some strides,” Croy said. “I’m seeing a lot of growth. We’re thinking less and playing more.
“We’re getting a little bit of that swagger back after we got rocked up north. We have a lot of hungry kids. Our goal is to get back to playing football in November.”