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Hug Hawks Season Preview

Hug Hawks Season Preview

The high school football season begins in less than two weeks, with that being said we are previewing over twenty teams from our local area. Today's team: Hug.

Hug Hawks

2022 record: 6-4 overall, 4-1 league

Head coach: Anthony Doucette, second season at Hug (6-4 overall, 4-1 league in one season at Hug; 27-52 overall, 18-33 league over nine seasons at North Valleys and Hug)

Overview: Welcome back to the large class Hawks! Flying High and in their final season in the 3A, and for the first time in eight seasons the Hug Hawks qualified for the playoffs. Yes, you read that right, the last time that the Hawks had participated in the playoffs prior to last season was in November of 2014 when they were finishing up a season that saw them go 8-4 overall in the Northern 4A.

What would follow for the Hawks would be a tough seven-year stretch that saw them win only once in 57 tries. This included a streak that saw the once proud school lose 40-straight games as they reclassified to the Northern 3A for a handful of years, before finding success with their new coaching staff led by McQueen Alum Tony Doucette last season. The Hawks had waited 2,122 days for a victory and a new coaching staff proved to have just the gameplan that it took for that to happen on August 19, 2022, when Hug defeated Lindhurst (Olivehurst, Calif.) 55-0 in their stadium's first game on the newly opened campus.

Looking ahead to this season Coach Doucette said that he is excited about the upcoming season and that "realignment is good, it gives everyone a chance to be successful - everyone feels they can win because they don't have to face [Bishop] Gorman anymore." Coach Doucette reflected on his time coaching in the 3A and was very complimentary of the top schools (Churchill County, Elko, and Truckee (Calif.)) saying that they are "always tough and fun to compete against," but he's excited to be playing at the "top level" again this season.

Coach Doucette said that his team's key to success this season is "Staying healthy - and [building] depth is key." He continued to expand upon his team numbers saying "When kids are playing baseball and basketball year round it causes numbers to drop [becuase] it's hard to have [off-season, weight room] buy-in from the kids when they only get ten games a year." The Hawks plan to continue to run their version of the "Pistol 'Air Raid' Zone Read" offense this season, as they welcome back five starters from last season's squad. Defensively, the Hawks will employ a 3-3-5 stack, that allows them to have "lots of pressure, [and] lots of blitzing." They lost a lot of production from last year and will only return three defensive starters.

Look out for:

LB/TE Saili Aonga, Senior: Aonga has been on varsity since his freshman year. He has totaled 103 tackles, five TFLs, a sack, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in that time. He led the team in tackles last season, "he's a good tackler and he has a chance to be a legit Division-I prospect this season if he puts it all together" said Coach Doucette. As a Tight End he scores every other time he touches the ball having racked up four receptions for 111 yards and two TDs. If he's healthy he's a breakout candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

C/DT Marley Mafua, Senior: Mafua is a two-way starter that Coach Doucette described as "Fast, Smart, [and] Great at rushing the opposing team's QB." He has accumulated 19 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble while playing in the middle of the Hawks defense the last two seasons. He eats up blocks and free's up his linebackers to make plays.

Defensively, be on the lookout for DE Nasoni Puteni; DL Sitiven Niuila and LB Esai Linares to help the Hawks keep opposing team's offenses at bay. Puteni is a stalwart on the line having recorded 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble the last two seasons. Niuila was mentioned as someone who will be an impact player for the Hawks this season, and Linares was a "rotation guy" last season that stepped up big when Aonga was off the field. Linares was responsible for 51 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery last season.

Don't be surprised by...

QB Jacob Perez, Junior: "Knows our scheme well as he played in it as a Freshman at North Valleys" said Coach Doucette. Perez also had glowing reviews from his coach as he stated "He has good instincts, [he] is accurate and athletic." Doucette's scheme requires smart, agile QB play and the coach had high praise for his star pupil stating "We think he is gonna surprise people this year." Only time will tell if Perez can help the Hawks offense take flight.

Season Schedule:

Aug. 18 at Damonte Ranch

Aug. 25 vs. Lowry (Winnemucca, Nev.)

Sep. 1 at Sparks

Sep. 8 at Reed

Sep. 15 vs. McQueen

Sep. 21 vs. Carson

Sep. 29 at Douglas

Oct. 6 at Wooster

Oct. 13 vs. Galena

Oct. 20 vs. North Valleys

J. Ray Dockter has been covering high school sports since 2022. If you have a story worth telling let him know via Twitter @J_RayDoc.

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