2017 KHQA Barnstorm Tour-Stop 16: WEST HANCOCK TITANS
DUERRISMS BARNSTORMING NOTES FROM OUR MONDAY VISIT TO HAMILTON
THE SKINNY: With sixteen starters returning from a squad that went 9-0 in the regular season last Fall, Travis Cook helms one of the most enviable football situations in the Tri-States this Fall. Titans were felled on a busted play Hail Mary against St Thomas More last Fall in their playoff opener and that has provided powerful off-season incentive. As we noted on Twitter on Monday, this team has clearly worked out its angst over that loss by "working out" as the size and strength gains among the Titans have been substantial. See also: Corvaia, James.
SPOILS OF SUCCESS: The Titans have 65 players out for Football this Fall, 27 of them Freshman. That's quite a spike from when Travis Cook took over a flagging program that could barely get 35 kids to go out for Varsity Football
BIRDLAND: Defensive Line play, bolstered by the returns of Andy Bird and Tyler Korn, is strong enough that long time 5-2 scheme devotee Travis Cook is willing to be more creative, sport multiple fronts to take advantage of the play making ability. The loss of Caleb Adams takes some starch out of the Linebacker Corps, but Kolton Johnson and the vastly underrated Chase Hartweg form a nice returning nucleus with 102.5 total tackles between them. Both are incredibly heady kids whose discipline fills in the cracks nicely here. Don't sleep on Andrew Harris as an Edge threat (either OLB/DE depending on the look) who quietly posted a team high in Tackles for Loss with 6 last Fall.
THE LIFE OF RILEY: He certainly came into his own as a Running Back with 909 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, but people tend to forget that Riley Langford was just as good (if not better) as a Return Specialist and Defensive Back. His ball-hawking skills underscored by the five interceptions he snared last Fall. Dangerous player everywhere on the field.
THE BRYCE IS RIGHT: Bryce Wilson doesn't look remotely like Bryce Wilson 2016. The speedy Jitterbug of a wing back now looks like a Tom Osborne-era Cornhusker Fullback with functional blocking streak to match. It doesn't look like his new found size has effect his speed, but his initial hand pop in blocking drills was jarringly impressive. Don't sleep on this new evolution of the kid. I suspect he gets plenty of run for a team trying to eat up Will Fox's lost production.
IT'S NOT THE SHOES: Posted the picture on Twitter of Bryce Buckert's zebra striped cleats with rabbit's foot good luck charms hanging off the back. They were a part of the on-going theme days the Titan players have organized to make the drudgery of early camp a little more fun. There will be nothing boring about Buckert's QB Play this Fall either. He's become a tremendous play action passer and in so doing, given Offensive Coordinator Jim Unruh more options to play with. Unruh admitted to me that he's become a bit more liberal in recent years with his willingness to go to the play action, especially in early downs just to keep defenses from getting too comfortable in the box. Buckert is another of those kids who have thickened up nicely and his mobility is enhanced here by a demonstrable gain in lower body strength. Bottom line, kid can run over tacklers now, not just around and through.