SMOKY HILL BUFFALOES
Coach: Justin Hoffman, 1st season
Last year: 4-6 overall, 0-5 in 5A Centennial League (missed 5A playoffs)
Players to watch: Trent Clay, 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, QB, sr.; Dominique Carrasco, 6-4, 180, WR/S, jr.; Frank Thomas, 6-3, 175, WR/DB, sr.; Isaiah Alexander, 5-7, 165, RB/DB, sr.; Tyler Brown, 5-6, 160, RB/DB, sr.; Malik Pompey, 5-9, 170, RB/DB, jr.; Hank Hyde, 6-0, 190, TE/OLB, sr.; Dexter Bess, 5-9, 240, OL/DL, sr.; Carlos Zerna, 5-10, 235, OL/DL, jr.; Eric Lewis, 5-10, 200, ILB, sr.
2013 Outlook: Smoky Hill is full of anticipation for the new season to begin, with a completely new coaching staff led by new head coach Justin Hoffman, who came over from Gateway in January after winning Aurora League Coach of the Year honors last season. Hoffman — who spent the past six seasons with the Olys — took over after the John Thompson era with the Buffaloes ended after seven seasons when Thompson stepped down last December shortly after the end of the team’s 4-6 season. New energy abounds in the Smoky Hill program, which saw a swell in numbers — almost 100 players came out for the team — as word spread throughout the school about Hoffman and the new attitude he brought with him. Hoffman employed the run-heavy veer offense at Gateway and the Buffaloes will employ some of that system, however, the throwing arm of senior quarterback Trent Clay will expand the playbook. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Clay will start for the fourth straight season and won’t be intimidated by Centennial League play. He’s looking forward to more chances to run the ball, while the backfield of seniors Isaiah Alexander and Tyler Brown and junior Malik Pompey will also see plenty of work. The pass will have plenty of place in the Smoky Hill offense, however, especially with the weapons the Buffaloes have at wide receiver in senior Frank Thomas and junior transfer Dominique Carrasco along with senior tight end Hank Hyde. Thomas led Smoky Hill in catches (34), yards receiving (482) and touchdown catches (6) last season and will benefit from the presence of Carrasco, a super-athletic newcomer who was a standout hurdler last year in Hays, Kan. Hoffman’s teams have always had solid lines and he has some cornerstones on both sides of the football in senior Dexter Bess — a state placing wrestler last winter — along with junior Carlos Zerna. Senior Eric Lewis is expected to lead Smoky Hill’s emphasis on flying to the football as a defense, while the defensive backfield of Carrasco, Thomas, Alexander, Brown and Pompey should be able to match up with most of the offenses the Buffaloes will go against. The same group should rotate on special teams, giving the Buffaloes the threat of the big play. Hoffman was used to lack of depth at Gateway and he has the same concerns should injuries befall Smoky Hill due to the drop off level in experience between the starters and the reserves.
Quoting the coach: “Our goals are first to set our attitude right, and I think we’ve done that up to this point. It’s still a work on progress and we’re not all the way there yet, but we want to set our attitude up to be successful. We’ve got a lot of guys around and I think the attitude is there, now the next piece we talk about is being good character guys and that is going to pay dividends all the time. For the most part, we don’t talk about wins and losses, we just don’t. That’s not one of the things we will be judged on. We’ll be judged by the content of our character and hopefully the wins will come.”
2013 schedule: Home games in all caps (played at Stutler Bowl): Friday, Aug. 30 — vs. Gateway at Aurora Public Schools Stadium, 4 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 6 — LEGEND, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 13 — vs. Aurora Central at APS Stadium, 6 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 20 — STANDLEY LAKE, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 26 — at Cherokee Trail, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 4 — EAGLECREST, 7:30 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 11 — CHERRY CREEK, 4 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 18 — OVERLAND, 4 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 25 — vs. Grandview at Legacy Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel