Spanish Springs Cougars Season Preview
The high school football season begins this coming Friday, with that being said we are continuing our previews within our local area. Today's team: Spanish Springs.
Spanish Springs Cougars
2022 record: 7-6 overall, 4-2 league
Head coach: Rob Hummel, fifth season (23-18 overall, 13-6 league in four seasons
The Cougars begin this season having just completed their best playoff run in school history. Behind a stellar senior class that included QB JJ Dain, WR/DB Nate Penney, LBs Marco Casci and Logan Franklin, the Cougars fell six points shy of winning the school's first regional football championship in their 22 year history. Don't lose hope Cougars fans as this year's version of the 'Purple People Eaters' is ready to make another run at the championship and finish the job for Coach Hummel and Co.
As the Cougars begin their season they will be leaning on a plethora of new starters at multiple positions, having lost a ton of talented seniors off last year's squad. During my conversation with Coach Hummel he stated "We've created momentum... our kids have motivation to finish the job." During our conversation he was quick to point out that his team's mindset during the early part of the season are to "play [great] competition, find out our strengths and weaknesses, and be playing our best football in the playoffs."
Coach Hummel stated that he believes with the creation of the new 5A, Division-II that the title of best team in town will still be up for grabs. He stated "We are further ahead than we typically are at this point - on both sides of the ball."
Spanish Springs will continue to employ the "Spread" offense and Coach Hummel told me "We've got to execute, [to be] successful." The Cougars only return four starters from last year's team but they are players that Coach Hummel is very confident in.
Defensively, the Cougars will continue to roll out their 4-2-5 defense and work in the even front. Coach Hummel is very high on his defensive line. With only three starters returning he believes they will set the tone every week with their "Mental preparation, consistent improvement, passion to improve [and] execution on Friday nights."
Three key returners:
RB Zach Eaton, Junior: Eaton took over as the starter at RB around mid-season for the Cougars and never looked back. Over the last two season he has totaled 834 rushing yards and five touchdowns on only 147 carries - an average of almost 5.7 yards per carry. Coach Hummel described him as "solid last year, and [the leader of a] deep RB group for us this year."
DE Trenton Ross, Senior: Offensively Ross is a mix of Taysom Hill and Kyle Juszczyk. He was a battering ram in the run game and accounted for eight receptions and 129 yards receiving in the passing game. However, his biggest contributions come on defense as he was responsible for 43 tackles, 10 TFLs, two sacks, an interception and a defensive TD on a 'scoop and score' against Marin Catholic (Calif.) early in the season.
DB Dominick Ruiz, Senior: The 'Dominator' as I refer to him is back for his Senior season for the Cougars. He was the perfect compliment to Nate Penney last season but will step into the lead role for the Cougars defensive backfield. A state champion wrestler, he sealed the win for the Cougars in their highly anticipated playoff matchup against crosstown rival Reed last season, intercepting a pass to seal the win for the Cougs. He also had 39 tackles last season and Coach Hummel described him as "experienced back there, a [really] tough kid."
WR Chris Shakespeare, Senior: Shakespeare burst on to the scene as the Cougars slot receiver last season. He caught 31 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. Coach Hummel said he has "speed, and good hands - very good ball skills." The two-way star should get more looks defensively as well having made 22 tackles last season.
WR Karson Hills, Senior: Hills is a 'Jack-of-all-Trades' for the Cougars offense. Last season he accounted for 68 yards, and a touchdown on ten carries. His main position offensively is outside wide receiver where he corralled 22 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown. I expect him to put up Nate Penney-esque numbers this season.
Strength in the Trenches:
Offensively Cormac Anderson and Esiaias Justice will be responsible for keeping Hummel upright and clean in the pocket this season. Anderson is coming off ACL surgery following wrestling season but is expected to make his return by week three. Justice is a road grader that has a mean streak to him. They'll be fun to watch this season. Look for a lot of new faces on the [offensive and defensive] lines for the Cougars this season.
Defensively, a pair of seniors will create havoc for the Cougars opponents this season. DE Derrick Carr is back for his Senior year after having moved to Georgia for last season. Hummel described him as "Big, fast, talented - we expect big things from him this year." His running mate will be DT Caleb Thomas who had 22 tackles, one tackle for loss, a sack and a fumble recovery last season.
Remember these names...
QB Tate Hummel, Senior: Hummel is decribed as a player who was "solid last year [in limited action]." His coach and father said "[He] looked good in 7-on-7 this summer, [and] his timing/accuracy is getting better." In limited action last year Hummel threw for 390 yards and three touchdowns. He should have surpassed those numbers by week three this season.
DB/WR Brady Hummel, Sophomore: A late addition to the Cougars roster last season, Brady started the team's final three games of the season, recording ten tackles and providing the squad with some much needed depth. Coach Hummel said "[he is] a good communicator, great in the run game and [will also play outside] receiver for us this season [as well]."
Aug. 18 at Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills, Calif.)
Aug. 25 vs. Shadow Ridge (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Sep. 2 at Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.)
Sep. 8 vs. Wooster
Sep. 15 at North Valleys
Sep. 22 at Bishop Manogue
Sep. 28 vs. Damonte Ranch
Oct. 6 vs. Reno
Oct. 13 at McQueen
Oct. 20 at Reed
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.