Coach: John Trahan, 1st season
2014 record: 3-7 overall, 2-4 in 5A South Metro League (missed 5A state playoffs)
Players to watch: Dante Lewis, 6-foot, 195 pounds, DE/WR, sr.; Tahir Hopkins, 5-10, 135, WR/DB, sr.; Karson Avila, 6-1, 180, QB/S, jr.; Robert Woods, 5-11, 210, LB, jr.; Ryan Campbell, 6-1, 245, OL/DL, jr.; Joseph Lawrence, 5-5, 160, RB/DB, jr.
2015 outlook: The coaching carousel turned yet again for Smoky Hill, as John Trahan becomes the fourth head coach of the Buffs in as many seasons, as he takes over following half a season as an assistant under an interim staff. Trahan engineered a turnaround in his four seasons as head coach at Montbello before coming over to Smoky Hill as an assistant last season and he seeks to similarly change the mindset in his new program, which has had zero winning seasons and just one playoff appearance since 1990. Trahan understands the constant change in coaches, philosophy and terminology has been difficult for the players who have been in the program for a few years and he hopes to establish consistency going forward. That’s especially important given the huge number of sophomores who were on the varsity roster last season — a number Trahan puts at around 35 — and form the core of the future. DE/WR Dante Lewis — an All-South Metro League honorable mention selection last season as an athlete — and WR/DB Tahir Hopkins bring senior experience to the group that will rely on that large junior class. Karson Avila rotated at quarterback last season with Shae Wyatt, who moved out of state, so Avila is back under center after a season in which he threw for 508 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and a score. Joseph Lawrence is likely to get a significant number of carries at running back for the Buffs, who lost their top two leading rushers in Wyatt (545 yards) and Hayden Blubaugh (530), who transferred to Grandview. Ryan Campbell, a 6-1, 245-pounder, is a key figure on an offensive line that is not exceptionally big. Defensively, Robert Woods is the team’s leading returning tackler as the junior linebacker made 62 stops a year ago and also recorded five sacks. Lewis added four sacks on the line and Lawrence picked off two passes last season as a defense back and is also one of the team’s top tacklers. Schedule: Smoky Hill lost all three of its non-league contests last season and the Buffs will see Overland — its former Centennial League rival, with the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy at stake — Rock Canyon and Arvada West again with a change to measure its progress. Smoky Hill won twice in South Metro League play against Gateway and Hinkley and will see them again on Sept. 25 and Oct. 15, respectively, while the Buffs will try to turn a three-point loss to Arapahoe the other direction when they cap the regular season against the Warriors on Oct. 30.
Schedule: Home games in all caps (played at Stutler Bowl): Friday, Aug. 28 — vs. Overland at Stutler Bowl, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 4 — ROCK CANYON, 5 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 12 — vs. Arvada West at North Area Athletic Complex, noon; Thursday, Sept. 17 — vs. Heritage at Littleton Public Schools Stadium, 7 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 25 — GATEWAY, 7 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 2 — GRAND JUNCTION, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 8 — RANGEVIEW, 7 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 15 — at Hinkley, 6 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 30 — vs. Arapahoe at LPS Stadium, 7 p.m.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel