Humphreys hopeful that this is breakout season
Stars and Stripes | .
published: September 06, 2016
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – They’ve toiled in the shadow of three-time defending champion Daegu the first two seasons of their varsity existence.
A group of 18 Humphreys veteran players, along with a new coaching staff, are optimistic that 2016 is the season that Blackhawks football finally turns the corner.
“We’re super stoked,” first-year Humphreys head coach Steven Elliott said at practice Tuesday, four days before their season opener. “We’re very excited to represent the school and the community. We’re building a program. We’re building a standard. And it starts this year.”
Season 3 of Blackhawks football sees a core of experienced skills players, including returning quarterback tandem Brice Bulotovich and Trey Schreurs, working behind a line that averages 220 pounds, and features the likes of Kenneth Kim, a 270-pound senior.
They have plenty of complementary skill players, experienced running backs such as Owen “Thor” Williams, Miles Brice and DaShun Cline, and receivers such as senior Nate Hellams, a 6-foot-5 target who presents matchup problems for opposing secondaries; and Tyrell Alexander, a junior from Fort Polk. La.
“We have a core of kids coming back who have been in the program for two years, some of them three,” said new assistant coach Ron Merriwether. “They’ve been through a lot. They have direction. And they’re hungry.”
Going 4-3 in their first varsity season and 3-4 last year will do that to such a group, Merriwether said. “That feeling lingers … they’ve been through the trenches, some of them since Humphreys’ beginning” in 2013.
That desire, the team’s depth, a goodly amount of discipline plus ability are “going to make a deadly combination,” Merriwether said. “They’ve been here working since Aug. 8. We have 30-plus players and we’re growing.”
That said, it takes more than showing up with plenty of numbers and good size to make teams quaver when they face the Blackhawks.
“It’s not a given,” Merriwether said. “We have work to do. You can’t be complacent. You have to get out in front of it. We still have to get there, and we’re going to respect everybody we play to get to the top.”
What Merriwether, Elliott and the rest of the coaching staff say they like is how players show up well before the start of 4:30 p.m. workouts and sometimes hang around far later than the 6:30 p.m. end of practice, to run, lift weights or just talk football.
“We have to remind them that their parents are here waiting to pick them up,” Merriwether said, adding that he and the staff have implemented study halls, as Merriwether did with his Korea regular-season champion basketball team. “We have to get those books down, too.”
While the Blackhawks don’t have Osan on their schedule and must face Division I Seoul American once and Daegu at least twice, there are possible games with two Korea schools, plus an inter-district road trip to Robert D. Edgren on Halloween weekend. And if all works out, a second trip to Japan, which hosts the Division II title game, is also possible.
“We have one trip” to Japan, Merriwether said. “We plan to have two. If we can have that same desire, dedication and discipline in practice and in every game … we have to be spot on, every practice, every game, to be the best.”