Combs Football: Quality Greater than Quantity

3 months ago Andrew Luberda 0

The good news for the Combs football team is it has perhaps its greatest collection of talent in recent years. The potential bad news is the Coyotes don’t have much depth with a roster that rests just north of 30 players, barely.

Second-year head coach Travis Miller is more than satisfied to have high-quality talent despite a roster short on numbers.

“I suppose every football coach would like to have 100 kids in their program,” Miller told CountyLinePreps.com. “I’ll take the kids I have and the numbers I have with these particular boys because I’m extremely proud of them.

“I’ll go anywhere with these boys because their hearts are big, their desire to win is big, and the talent and speed we have with some of these boys is something fun to watch.”

The Yotes spent the spring and summer working on conditioning, speed and agility in preparation for what Miller calls “warrior football.”

“Some of them are going to play the entire game, and we’re prepared for that,” Miller said. “Before the end of last school year, I made it mandatory that any football kids that weren’t playing another sport, like baseball, joined the track team.

“Everything we do is based on speed, so we worked on a lot of footwork and football-specific speed drills,” Miller continued. “If you don’t have a lot of numbers, then you better get in the endzone quick.”

The Coyotes have several players capable of taking to the house in the blink of an eye, including 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior running Cody White, who led the Yotes with 670 rushing yards and nine touchdowns while playing in only six games a year ago. Senior Jordan Lee is back in the mix after an essentially wasted junior year. The duo gives the Yotes a dynamic rushing attack.

“The offseason was crazy, there was a lot of work,” Lee said about his efforts to regain the form he possessed as a sophomore starter. “(I was) training with the coaches, building that team bond again since I really wasn’t on the team last year.”

What did Lee miss most?

“Under those lights – the Friday night lights – with the crowd going, the band, everything,” he responded.

 

 

Quarterback Trey Buck, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior, is the starter, a year after being moved in and out of the lineup as a sophomore. Buck has two major threats on the outside in Antonio Horrison and Francisco Munoz, both seniors.

Munoz, an unexpected midyear transfer from Tennessee last season, displayed his high-end skills in limited action. He’s the Yotes’ go-to guy in 2018.

Horrison made his greatest contributions in 2017 on defense, where he had two interceptions, one of them a pick-six. He’s expected to make plays on both sides of the ball this year. The 6-foot, 165-pound senior said the Coyotes are an improved team heading into the 2018 season.

“Our team has a lot more leaders this year,” Horrison said. “We have some really fast players – not big but very strong. We’re ready for the first game.”

Seniors Dameion Dunn (WR) and Sonatane Taunima (FB) are two more talented players who give new offensive coordinator Ben Johnson a nice problem to have – spreading the ball around to all of the team’s playmakers.

“Having several playmakers on the field gives us options and diversity,” Miller said. “Spreading it out and finding unique ways to get our speedsters the ball so we can take advantage of our opponents the best way we can is our number-one priority.”

Defensively, the Coyotes need to fill several spots after the graduation of the top seven tacklers off last year’s roster.

Horrison is the top returning tackler, followed by Sonatane Taunima, Devin Montgomery, Skyler Moore and Munoz. First-year varsity player Bubba Taunima, a 5-foot-11, 294-pound sophomore, who possesses the desirable combination of strength, power, and speed, will be a beast along the defensive line.

The Coyotes have two of the best specialists in the Black Canyon Region in senior punter Jalen Upton and junior placekicker Ian Loggins. Upton was an All-Region punter and placekicker last year. This year he’ll focus on punting and kickoffs, while Loggins takes over placekicking responsibilities.

With the little depth, staying healthy is one significant key to the Coyotes having a successful season. Miller provided others.

“Finish to the end,” he said. “Keep that brotherhood and that bond together that we picked up this summer at football camp.

“If we can keep those things throughout the entire game, and we play strong until the end, when it comes down to the end result I’ll be proud of these guys no matter what.”

The Coyotes travel to Cottonwood to play Mingus in the season opener for both teams on Aug. 17.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.