Jay Graves, Englewood High School football coach, said he expects the Pirates to be stronger and more competitive this season.
“We had some kids graduate and they will be missed. However, the good news is we have eight starters returning on both sides of the ball,” the coach said. “I think our offense and defensive lines will be strong, our skill positions are good and we have some new kids who show a lot of potential. I think this will be a better season for the Pirates.”
Englewood took part in a scrimmage at Kent Denver Aug. 23 and the Pirates will open the season on the road Aug. 30 at Woodland Park. The first home game of the year is Sept. 6 against Arvada.
The kickoff time for home games will be 7 p.m. and the games will be played in Englewood High School Stadium.
There are about 40 athletes out for the football team, and the coach said the team will be primarily a mixture of sophomores and seniors.
“A lot of our freshman got quite a bit of varsity playing time last season,” Graves said. “They are back with us as sophomores and they came in bigger, stronger and ready to play.”
The coach said Isiah Mestas returns at quarterback and he said other returning veterans like Chris Gutierrez, Tyler Harris and Justin Wade will strengthen the offense.
Graves also said it will be almost like a committee system at running back.
“We have several kids who can play in the backfield for us, so our plan is to try to get all of them some playing time,” the coach said. “Up front, we have all veterans on the offensive line.”
Forecast starters on the offensive line will be seniors Ken Gelinas and Matt Hiibschman and sophomores Ben McFarland, Kevin Mahler and Kyle Robideau. Most of the starters on offense are also starters on defense.
However, the coach said some players new to the team will see action either as starters or as first-line reserves.
“With 40 guys on the roster, we will have a varsity team and a C-team made up primarily of freshmen and sophomores. Some C-team player will see times with both squads,” Graves said. “In the league, I expect Elizabeth and Fort Morgan will again be strong. Vista Peak should be better because they have everyone back.”
Senior Ken Gelinas said he is looking forward to the season.
“Our team is looking good,” he said. “Our line is strong. It is the strongest line Englewood has had since my freshman year. That team went to the playoffs so I feel we should do pretty well this season.”
Gelinas said he is a better player this season because he spent a lot of time in the weight room, so he is stronger, and has worked on improving his football skills.
The senior plays on the offensive and the defensive line but said he likes playing offense better because he gets to hit a guy across the line as hard as he can every play, so he can open the way for the running back to gain yardage and possibly score.
Starting quarterback Mestas also said he is eager for the season to start.
“This is the most excited I have been about a football season since I have been here at Englewood,” the senior said. “I am excited because everyone is here, they are looking good, there are no attitudes and everyone is ready to play.”
Mestas said he feels he is well prepared for the season because, during the off season, he spent time in the weight room to get stronger and worked to develop stamina and conditioning to be ready to play.
He said he feels his speed is an asset when he runs the offense, and also when he moves into the lineup at defensive back.
“My goals this year is to play my best so our team can win the conference and qualify to go to the state playoffs,” he said.