80
      Friday
      92 / 71
      Saturday
      91 / 73
      Sunday
      92 / 74

      KHQA Barnstorm Report: WEST HANCOCK TITANS

      KHQA BARNSTORM CAMP NOTES

      WEST HANCOCK TITANS

      Projected Team Strengths: Offensive Scheme, Kolbie Schilson, Experience, Senior nucleus

      Projected Question Marks: Depth, Defensive Resolve

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      POSITIVITY: Brian Lewton has certainly found an encouraging way to frame last year's oh-fer season, telling his kids they are the only squad in Western Illinois that has the chance to go from 0-9 last season to 9-0 this year. That may be an optimistic stretch in the rough and tumble West Central Conference, but there are sixteen returning starters in play here (eight on each side of the ball) and it's a largely senior nucleus, so I think the expectation for better football this season isn't far fetched. And the schedule makers have given the Titans a tremendous opportunity to build some early momentum with a season opening road trip to the Missouri Military Academy. That is a very winnable road game that would put last year's struggles immediately in the rear-view mirror. I'd call that a must have game for West Hancock, especially with MonRose, Macomb and IW immediately lined up in the schedule in Weeks 2-4.

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      TEMPO, TEMPO, TEMPO: West Hancock's Spread No-Huddle Offense will look to improve on the 220 yards of passing per game it produced a year ago. Brian Lewton likens the ideal "finished product" here to something akin to what we see from Jacksonville High. Efficient Quarterback. Lots of different kinds of Wide Receivers in the pattern with which to contend. Furious tempo that gives a defense no chance to adjust. Coy Dorthey will take over the Quarterback duties. He's a smart kid who will be asked to manage a sophisticated offense and make good reads. He appears to do a pretty good job of putting the football on line. And he has mobility and toughness. If this is an approximation of the Jacksonville Offense, expect Kolbie Schilson to channel the Blake Hance/Dalton Keene role. He's actually more of a true Wide Receiver than a Split Out Tight End, like the Crimson targets, but Schilson is plenty physical at 6'1" and 190 pounds. He had 40 plus receptions last season. Brian Lewton suspects he could double his opportunities here this season. Austin Hardy, Tyler Dooley, and potential slot guy Jordan White are among the other targets we could see in the pattern. Keep an eye on Hardy. As anyone who watched Tri State Baseball the last two season can attest, Austin is one of the most deceptively athletic kids in the Tri States. And his unbelievable "shortstop-soft" hands would make any Tri State Quarterback happy.

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      LET'S GROOVE TONIGHT: Brian Lewton is calling it his "Earth, Wind, and Fire" Offensive Backfield. Coy Dorothy obviously will provide the Air component of that combination. Don't sleep on Running Backs Jed Schlicher and Jesse Espinoza in providing the ground component. Schlicher is a a big, tough kid at 205 pounds and gives the Titans a power runner between the tackles. Espinoza is super quick and seems to have that ability to weave into running lanes effortlessly. Wrestling star Jack Lucie may also factor in this mix. The Titans return five different Offensive Linemen with starting experience, four of them Seniors. There is pretty decent size there as well with Levi Huls setting the benchmark at 6'5" 260 lbs. The Titans won't lack for weapons.

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      TACKLING THE ISSUE: Giving up 45 points per game last season was a downright ghastly exhibition. If the Titans have legitimate designs on improvement, it has to start on defense. Linebacker appears to be an obvious building block with Schilson, Schlicher, and the unsung Freddy Lopez all reprising their roles from a year ago. Colby West and Austin Hardy could be difference makers on the edge as well. The Titans aren't doing anything fancy or sophisticated on offense. There's no magic formula to improvement. These guys have to do a better/smarter job running to contact and finishing tackles. There are some promising pieces here; far too merit a repeat of last year's inexcusable lack of production.

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      PLAYER OF GRAVITY: Kolbie Schilson. I've got the kid in my top ten among Wide Receiver/Tight End types and he may well lead the region in receptions this season, given how much the Titans plan to work him. And he has the kind of range and closing ability to a sideline to sideline factor at Linebacker. He's a kid who could play for just about any team in the area.

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      SLEEPER: Jordan White. Already mentioned Espinoza, who will turn heads with his slashing ability the minute he debuts. So how about a Wes Welker type within the framework of the spread offense. White isn't very big at 5'7" but I think he will see a lot of touches and plays stronger than his listed 150 pounds. While opponents are accounting for Schilson on every play and dealing with Austin Hardy, I could very easily see Jordan sneaking up to gain reps. Don't sleep on Defensive Back Arich North either, who brings experience and good size to a Secondary that really needs to ratchet up its run support.

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