It's August and football is in the air at Batavia HS
It's August, and Batavia High School Coach Brennan Briggs couldn't be happier. He's got his team right where he wants them, preparing for another football season.
“We’re enthused to be playing football again," said the Blue Devil's head coach. “We back on the gridiron and we love it. We’re excited to be out on the practice field at Van Detta."
Typically, this time of year, Briggs is taciturn about his team's chances in the upcoming season. This August, he isn't mincing words. He's raising expectations for his young players, many of whom are replacing starters that helped Batavia win consecutive Section V championships.
"We need to stay the course, keep the expectations high," Briggs said. "Even though we're young, it doesn't mean we can't go out there and compete for our third title in a row. They need to set the bar high. They have the ability to win a section championship. We've just got to make sure we enjoy the journey and make sure we're getting better every week."
The heart of any offense is the quarterback and with Greg Mruczek's graduation, that opens the position for the 2016 season. Senior Jerry Reinhart has the inside track, but he's got some competition for the slot. Junior Chandler Baker has a chance to win the job.
"Baker is a fantastic athlete and he's pushing Jerry," Briggs said. "He's done a great job. It makes for a great, healthy competition for both guys to compete for the spot. Regardless of who gets the spot, both would make fantastic QBs and both are fantastic receivers. Their athleticism will have an impact, one that is notable on Friday nights."
Both have good arms and can run, Briggs said. Reinhart has a little more experience after backing up Mruczek last season.
The offensive line is young and several guys are competing for starting positions, but it will be anchored by the experience of Anthony "Butchy" Ray.
On defense, Briggs said the Blue Devils will have bulk on the line and athleticism on the outside, led by Eric Davis and Sam Marble.
"They're athletic on the ends, so we might be able to get creative with those guys out there," Briggs said. "We might be able to unleash them a bit, which is good if they make sure they know what their number one responsibility is and buy totally into the system. It will give us a different look."
Last year's team was notable for the tight-knit, family-like culture of the team. The young guys aren't quite there yet, but Briggs thinks with time they will get there. It will help with the resilience they'll need to call upon on Friday nights.
"We have a positive group of kids and I'm excited about what they can do," Briggs said.