Football: 2017 Hinkley football team at a glance

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Hinkley head football coach Michael Farda, right, is counting on senior Casey Sharpe (12) for big contributions on both sides of the football during the 2017 season. A winless 2016 season makes the Thunderbirds underdogs each time out this season, which also makes them “dangerous” in Farda’s estimation. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | The 2017 Hinkley football team at a glance:

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

HINKLEY

Mascot: Thunderbirds

Coach: Michael Farda

Last year: 0-10 overall (0-5 in Mount Evans League), missed Class 5A state playoffs

FOOTBALL 2017: HINKLEY THUNDERBIRDS

2017 season outlook: Former Texas high school coach Michael Farda arrived in Aurora last season intent on restoring some of the past prestige to a Hinkley program that had fallen on hard times in recent years. Things didn’t go quite as planned as the Thunderbirds finished winless against a difficult schedule (that included a brutal group in the Mount Evans League, including Class 5A state runner-up Pomona), but Farda enters the 2017 season as determined as ever to change things and feeling his group is “miles ahead of where we have been previously.” Numbers, depth and size remain a challenge for the program, however Farda said he believes he has a group that is ready to embrace the “Iron Man football” it will have to play week in and week out. He also feels every one of Hinkley’s opponents will have the pressure on it and that can make his team “dangerous.” Farda thinks he has three good tone-setting seniors in Casey Sharpe, Calvin Pope and Taywon Bryant, who like the rest of the team’s top players will hardly leave the field if not for injury. Sharpe tasted athletic success in May, when he ran a leg on the Hinkley boys 4×200 meter relay team that won the state championship at the Class 5A state track meet. He was the team’s second-leading receiver last season with 18 catches for 238 yards and led the team with two interceptions as well. Pope led the Thunderbirds in rushing with 218 yards on the ground and also worked under center on occasion, while he racked on 50-plus tackles on defense. Bryant saw action on both sides of the ball in eight games last season and will take on a much bigger role this season. A group of young players who had to play by necessity last season seem to have overcome the intimidation factor of facing top teams like Pomona.

Schedule breakdown: Hinkley faces the same schedule as it had last season and saves the best for last, as three of its last four games come against Class 5A playoffs teams last season in Pomona (Oct. 14), Cherokee Trail (Oct. 20) and Chaparral (Nov. 3). The Thunderbirds played their closest game against Mountain Range last season and will see the Mustangs again in the season opener on Aug. 31, while the Sept. 29 matchup against rival Aurora Central is always

2017 HINKLEY FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Home games bold and uppercased (home games played at Aurora Public Schools Stadium): Thursday, Aug. 31 — vs. Mountain Range at 5-Star Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 8 — THORNTON, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 15 — vs. Lakewood at Jeffco Stadium, 4 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 23 — DENVER EAST, noon; Friday, Sept. 29 — vs. Aurora Central at APS Stadium, 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 5 — vs. Mountain Vista at Shea Stadium, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 14 — POMONA, 11 a.m.; Friday, Oct. 20 — CHEROKEE TRAIL, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 26 — vs. Rock Canyon at EchoPark Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Nov. 3 — vs. Chaparral at EchoPark Stadium, 7 p.m.