Westran’s football team is locked, loaded and primed to make a deeper run through the Class 1 state playoffs this 2013 season.
In fact, looking on paper, the Hornets seemingly have enough tools in its arsenal to end its run knocking on the doorsteps of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis come Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend.
“There is no doubt that we at Westran are pretty excited about what this football season has to offer, and expectations for this team are set pretty high,” said Curtis Jasper, who enters his 7th year as Westran head coach (44-18). “I’m especially excited because I get to coach football again and be with this group of guys. After having a positive off-season in which a lot of our kids worked hard, now it’s our season to put all of this together and play the game.”
“I know our kids are excited to get the games going. I believe this will be another fun year for Westran football because of all the quality kids we have coming back and new ones coming in, and the fact that we have several kids back to fill in key positions.”
Jasper also pointed out that his football players greatly has bought into the Hornets system to follow, and that includes committing themselves to get better during the off-season.
Westran offered 117 weight lifting days since the 2012 season came to an end, and 23 of his 26 returning players were diligent in participating while nearly 80-percent of incoming freshmen also joined in.
In addition, small group meeting have been held allowing student athletes to share concerns, discuss values in life and learn ways in which they can become better citizens in school and within the Huntsville community.
“This tells me the kids are committed to the program. They want to get bigger, stronger and faster. It’s also an injury prevention thing for athletes, and it will increase performance,” said Jasper. “Many of our football players are multi-sport athletes. The weight room is not just for football players, it’s for athletes of all sports or even for students who do not participate in a sport but want to stay healthy or improve their health.”
With that being said, Jasper said his football players have bonded well with one another, and are striving to make themselves accountable to each other as well.
As a result of recent activities, Jasper said the team has adopted the slogan “My Brother’s Keeper” for the 2013 football campaign.
“I think this slogan is appropriate for our kids this year. We want the kids to focus on the team and in order to achieve goals set both on the field and off the field it is important to help each other out in all aspect of life.”
Page 2 of 3 - Westran’s coaching staff has 18 returning lettermen – including six offensive and seven defensive starters – back from a program that posted an overall record of 10-2 and went 4-1 in Lewis & Clark Conference play.
The Hornets dominated its 2012 opponents by an average score of 40-11, while holding teams to about 100 total yards of offense.
As good as last year was, it came with a sour ending when Westran lost 38-36 to South Shelby of Shelbina at home in a sectional playoff game that featured seven lead changes and a couple of ties. The Hornets defense could not contain Cardinals running back Trace Windsor who ran for more than 280 yards.
“We’re not very proud of our defensive play in that South Shelby game. We ended up dropping the ball on that one and let it get away from us,” said coach Jasper. “We are using that game as motivation to make ourselves better coming into this season.”
Jasper said defensive coordinator Scott Humphrey has put in many hours in the off-season making alterations with the Hornets defensive scheme of operation. The work put in by Humphrey and the Hornets defensive unit this summer paid dividends during the 7v7 scrimmages that were played along with camp sessions, and Jasper also said he has witnessed vast improvements just a few days into the preseason practices that were held.
“We will go with an even-base, even-front defense yet still being multiple in which we can walk a guy up to give a 50-look. We also will drop one of our defensive ends back in the flat and give a 30-look using a zone blitz, and I think you will see us even more aggressive getting to the ball carrier than you saw a year ago,” said Jasper. “Throughout camp this summer the kids quickly caught on to our new defensive scheme and with us just finishing our first week of full practice I’m really excited to what I see our defensive unit is doing right away.”
In his second varsity season at quarterback, Zane Jacoby had another stellar year in 2012 running the option that awarded him several post-season honors including being named to the Class 1 All-State Team.
Jacoby accounted for more than 75-percent of the production generated by the Hornets offensive unit last fall. He ran for 1,982 yards on 212 carries and 33 rushing TDs. Jacoby also threw for 1,347 yards (60-108) with another 21 TDs, and had six INTs.
Now entering his junior year, Jacoby has become more intelligent, faster, and stronger at the quarterback position and as a result, this should make for more talk around the water cooler by Hornets followers.
“There is no secret that our offense revolves heavily around Zane. Our opponents know that too, and we will continue to run the speed-option play. They will look to try and defend that first I imagine,” said Jasper. “As long as we are successful running it, we won’t change much. That is our bread-and-butter, and it has been our most explosive offensive weapon.”
Page 3 of 3 - Zane is an exceptional athlete. In the off season he has been working quite a bit with a quarterback’s coach from Columbia to improve his passing technique, his mechanics and reading defenses. This area (passing) is something we’re wanting to expand with our offense, and hopefully we will see improvement as the season goes along.”
As good and as valuable an asset Jacoby is to the Hornets success, the Westran field general could not put up the kind of numbers he does every given Friday night without the work that’s being done at the line of scrimmage.
Jacoby has the luxury of having an experienced O-line that averages 244 lbs. per position, and some agility to go with the beef. Only two linemen were lost to graduation.
“There is no doubt that our line play will play a great role in every game we play,” Jasper said. “The line play is what wins or loses a ball game, and we feel pretty good right now about what our line should be able to do on the field.”
Senior center Zack Hayes (6’3, 225) is an All-State lineman who will touch the football an equal amount of times as Jacoby, and be a key force of opening things up the middle or protecting it with the passing game.
Hays will be flanked on each side by reliable trench men Logan Hunt (6’1, 227, sr.), Justin Staiger (6’1, 266, sr.), Landen Eagen (6’1, 213, sr.) and 6’3, 305-pound sophomore Brennan Kitchen. All four of these linemen could likely switch between playing at both the guard and tackle positions during a game. Meanwhile, after an injury-laden junior year Richard Courtney (6’1, 199) returns healthy for his senior term assumes his tight end spot on the line.
Look for junior Jake Ingebritson making his debut at starting running back. He served more as a wide receiver last year but also had a handful of reps carrying the football.
The spread offense will utilize seniors Tayler Schermerhorn, Jordan Aulbur, Matt Kertz and junior Parker Howard rotating often as wide receivers.
Westran kicks off its fall campaign Aug. 30 when they travel to Shelbyville and take on the Raiders of North Shelby High School. The Hornets home opener on Sept. 13 against Father Tolton Catholic of Columbia also happens to be Homecoming.