No prep football team in Choice City finished with a record .500 or better last season, but Fort Collins High wasn’t far off.
After being plagued with injuries a season ago which kept important names like Jake Hanks and Toby Bollig off the field for extended time, the Lambkins and coach Eric Rice have high expectations this fall and feel there’s experience for another trip to the Class 5A state playoffs.
Fort Collins is the only program in town running a true spread offense, which has the Lambkins primed to put an exciting product on the field. It all starts Friday afternoon against Columbine at JeffCo Stadium.
Offensive outlook: Fort Collins is returning a plethora of stars on offense, highlighted by Hanks and Chase Thurgood — who’s making the switch from quarterback to playing wide receiver. The Lambkins will run most of their offensive sets out of spread formations and take advantage of the athleticism of quarterbacks Ethan Dvorak and Kyler Sigsbee.
Fort Collins does have depth on the line and will likely show some pro-style sets with tight ends from time-to-time.
Defensive outlook: Again, Hanks — a defensive end — and Thurgood — playing safety — will be the key contributors to the Lambkins’ stoppage plan, this time running a 4-3 set; however, Fort Collins does have the personnel to mix up its looks. In the season-opener at Columbine, Rice said to not be surprised if the team runs a 5-2 front to try and stop the Rebels’ prolific rushing attack.
Impact players: If there’s any name fans should be familiar with this year, it’s Hanks. The 6-foot-2, 246-pound defensive end/running back is heavily recruited in the region with scholarships from Wyoming, Air Force and Northern Colorado. Tulsa and North Dakota State have also extended offers.
Opposite of Hanks on the defensive line is Tyler Evans, a move-in junior from Fayetteville, N.C. He’s a player Rice has a lot of expectations in, already naming him a starter after only two months in the program.
Junior Riley Waldie is also expected to have an impact on defense.
“The one thing we want to have happen this year is that we want to stay healthy. We got crushed with injuries last year and they really took their toll on us at the end of the season. I just want us to compete in every game we play and give the best effort we can. If we win, great, if not, then I’ll know we played our best. If we go 0-10, it’s going to hurt, but at least I know our kids will have played their hearts out.”
— Eric Rice
Fort Collins football coach
First up: There couldn’t be a more difficult way for Fort Collins to begin the season than a road trip to face the defending Class 5A state champions, Columbine.
Columbine, ranked No. 2 in the preseason media poll, went undefeated last year and ended the Lambkins’ season in the opening round of the playoffs, 28-10. The Rebels have won 25 of their last 28 games.