CHS to lean on linemen
Last year Culver High School had depth at skill positions, but it was a down year for overall linemen play in football.
This year is the opposite. CHS coaches like what they're seeing from their linemen, but skill positions will be filled with younger, less experienced athletes.
"We have some guys on the line that are really getting after it," CHS head coach Brian Silbernagel said. "The guys have had a great start to the season by working their tails off."
Culver graduated a bulk of its skill players from last year's team that went 3-6 overall and 1-4 in Tri-River Conference play, but missed the Class 2A playoffs, including standout Jesus Retano.
"Jesus was a big part of what we did last year," Silbernagel said. "We have some really talented skill players on this team, but they're all very young."
Senior Ryan Fritz didn't play last season, but he will take a majority of the snaps at quarterback for the Bulldogs.
"Ryan is one of our best athletes and is learning quickly," Silbernagel said. "He's learning the reads and cutting down on his mistakes."
Fritz will hand the ball off to junior tail back Juan Diaz, who runs with a shifty style. CHS patrons can also expect sophomore Kyle Easterly to carry the ball from the full back position, along with others, according to Silbernagel.
"Juan is not a huge tail back, but he has speed and is explosive," Silbernagel said.
Junior Mitch Adams (6-foot, 3-inches, 190 pounds) will be a big target for the Bulldogs. He will play tight end.
"Mitch will be a big part of our offense," Silbernagel said.
Up front, Adams, Austin Caldwell, Tuck Williams and Josh Hendrix will anchor the Bulldogs' offensive line.
"Josh and Tuck will be in on a lot of plays on both sides of the ball," Silbernagel said. "I like what they've shown so far."
Adams is the only player returning that earned all-TRC honors last season. He was named a defensive line honorable mention player, and will likely see time at outside linebacker as well this season.
"We're going to have to rotate several guys in to spell some of our top linemen to keep them fresh," Silbernagel said.
Diaz will also see time at safety, trying to fill the shoes vacated by Retano, who was named the TRL co-Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Culver opens nonconference play at Grant Union Sept. 7 and begins TRL action Oct. 5 against Regis, a team Silbernagel said is going to be one of the strongest TRL teams.
"We're young, but if they can stick together and learn, the potential to be very good down the road is there," Silbernagel said.