Football: Homewood-Flossmoor banking on youth in 2013
Youth will be served at Homewood-Flossmoor this season.
Likely, in large doses.
As few as six to as many as a dozen sophomores may be starting for the Vikings, who locked down the No. 8 spot in the SouthtownStar Preseason Football Top 10.
“I’ve maybe brought up two sophomores during my career,” said Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea, who’s entering his fourth season at H-F and 21st overall. “But if we’re going to bring them up, they’re going to play. We are going to count on a lot of guys on offense to handle the ball that haven’t done it at the varsity level, which is our biggest concern.”
H-F will boast an abundance of playmakers at the skill positions. Whether it’s seniors Aaron Gooch at receiver and Vashon Nutt at running back, junior James Sheehan at tight end or sophomore twin brothers Devonte Harley-Hampton and Deonte Harley-Hampton, both running backs, the Vikings offense figure to be explosive. Gooch is capable of producing additional fireworks on kickoff returns, where he piled up 506 yards on 16 returns.
It still hasn’t been determined who will be under center for H-F, which was 7-3 a year ago.
Senior Isaac Cutrara and sophomore Bryce Gray remain in a tight race for starting quarterback honors. Cutrara has a leg up in regard to knowing and running the offense. Gray, however, boasts a stronger arm and big-play potential through the air.
“Our running game is going to be special,” Cutrara said. “We have a lot of different guys capable of making big plays. The offense is capable of doing some big things.”
The offensive line has some beef with seniors Devin Pitts (6-foot-4, 290) and Tyler Griffith (6-1, 240) and sophomore Desmond Bland (6-4, 255).
“We have a great offensive line,” Cutrara said.
The Vikings have a pair of anchors on the defensive line in seniors Michael Johnson (6-foot, 215) and Devion May (6-1, 255). Seniors Pat Johnson and R.J. Howell will handle strong and free safety, respectively.
Additional help should be arriving in the form of cornerbacks Cameron Brown, a senior, and junior Isiah Heard. Junior Preston Sanders is hoping to make his mark at linebacker.
“We have a lot of new faces,” Pat Johnson said. “But we had a great offseason. We’ve had to show the young guys the ropes and me being a senior, leadership is one of my roles on the team.”
The sophomore class had its way with the competition as freshmen in 2012. As freshmen they led opponents, on average, 49-0 at halftime in going undefeated.
However, there are likely going to be some growing pains on varsity, which is sure to test their maturity.
“The sophomores have adjusted well to the varsity atmosphere,” Pat Johnson said. “We need to stay disciplined, especially with how fast ‘Buzz’ expects us to play. When times get tough, we have to stay focused.
“But this is definitely the most talented team I’ve been on. This is the last year for the seniors. We want to make a major impact.”