Cameron Skornia has built a reputation for making the big play.
The senior tailback from Catholic High School is a perfect blend of size, overwhelming speed and an elusive first step that leaves tacklers grabbing at air.
But here’s a scary thought for opponents — 2013 might be the first year Skornia is completely healthy.
“I’m back completely healthy and I’m excited to see what will happen,” Skornia said. “We’ve got a good offensive line that’s coming together and lots of weapons. We’re excited.”
Skornia battled a pair of ankle injuries last season and still averaged over six yards per carry in leading the Fightin’ Irish in rushing. He’s put on some muscle as well and benefited from a strong track season last spring, according to coach Bobby Cornelison.
“He’s done it without losing speed,” Cornelison said. “He’s a little bit more explosive and his conditioning is better because of those two things. He tweaked that ankle last year in preseason camp and was never really at full strength the entire year.”
A healthy Skornia is not the only reason Catholic is excited for the season to begin. Junior quarterback Jack Jones looks impressive in practice and wide receiver/wingback Nick Baron will give the Fightin’ Irish a formidable skill group.
It will start with Jones, who played junior varsity as a sophomore because transfer rules kept him from getting varsity reps. The extremely athletic Jones not only fits well in Catholic’s rushing scheme, but his ability to throw the ball will make the Irish more versatile.
“I feel like talent-wise, Jack is probably as good a quarterback as we’ve had in years,” Cornelison said. “Now decision-making and some of that other stuff are something he will work on a little bit. But if he just calms down and plays within the system he could do some really good things.”
The passing game gets a big push from Baron, who has great hands and is quick enough to beat defenders deep. Tight ends Jacob Deragowski and Jacob Mowery, plus wideout Will Wester will spread defenses out.
Opponents won’t be able to stuff the box against the Fightin’ Irish this year and the opportunity for a big play is always there.
“Jack has the arm to give us the deep threat,” Baron said. “Cameron really has the ability to bust a big one. We’re just more versatile this year and that could make us dangerous.”
Defensively, the Irish will be exceptionally strong in the secondary. Unfortunately, that group will be tested with a gauntlet of impressive quarterbacks. Mountain View-Liberty’s Jaelon Acklin, Bolivar’s Rafe Peavey and Marshfield’s Blayne Armstrong are among the best throwing quarterbacks in the area.
“(The secondary) is our most experienced position group, but man, when you look at the people we play it may not look like it at times,” Cornelison said. “We’ll see some really good quarterbacks back there.”
The biggest question marks will come up front as Catholic will have a totally new offensive line. Veteran Matt Snodgrass is moving from guard to tackle and Daniel Davis is the only guy playing the same spot up front as last season.
“Kids are doing what they need to do to help us build some depth at certain spots,” Cornelison said. “We’ve got a few little wrinkles in there but we’ll try not to lose our identity.
“But in this conference, on any given Friday night, you better bring it.”