NEWPORT – Newport Central Catholic enters the 2014 football season with sights set on returning to the Class 2A state title game for the third straight season. First, the 2012 champions and 2013 runners-up must answer an important question at the quarterback position.
Three players entered camp battling it out for the starting job. Senior Grant Schilling, junior Erik Anderson, and sophomore Patrick Henschen were evenly matched through early August. The quarterbacks share similar builds and strengths and each is a prototypical pocket passer. Schilling and Anderson stand 6-foot-2, while the younger Henschen has a two-inch height advantage.
“It’s a pretty even competition right now,” said head coach Dan Wagner.
Whoever earns the starting nod will enjoy being protected by senior offensive linemen Colin Hoover and Jake Wieland. The two-way linemen will also anchor the Thoroughbreds defensive front.
Senior running back and safety Brandon Gray will also provide leadership on both sides of the ball. Last year, the ‘Breds relied on several underclassmen to contribute. Now, those players are expected to put together what they learned last season and go from wide-eyed youngsters to veteran leaders.
“We have experience,” said Wagner. “A lot of young players played significant minutes last year.”
Running back Jacob Smith and wide receiver/defensive back Nate Enslen are expected to have breakout seasons. The one-two punch of Gray and Smith in the offensive backfield will help take pressure off of the new starting quarterback.
While the Thoroughbreds will still rely on several players to start on both sides of the ball, they will enjoy more depth this season. That depth and the veteran leadership should carry NewCath on another fruitful postseason run.
“(Our strengths will be) our depth, attitude, and willingness to work,” Wagner said. “We want to make a deep, deep run in the playoffs.”
The Thoroughbreds open the season on Aug. 22 at Ashland Blazer.
Aug. 22: at Ashland Blazer, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 29: at Cooper, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 5: vs. Campbell County
Sept. 12: vs. Simon Kenton
Setp. 20: vs. Dixie Heights, 1 p.m.
Sept. 26: at Lloyd
Oct. 10: at Newport
Oct. 16: Brossart
Oct. 23: at Holy Cross
Oct. 31: Beechwood
All games at 7 p.m. unless noted