Coal Ridge Titans setting sights high for second season under Rickert
Things are certainly looking up for the Coal Ridge Titans heading into year two under head coach Trorie Rickert.
Last season, the Titans missed making the 2A Colorado High School Activities Association’s state playoffs by just one game. So now, with a full year of experience and a higher level of comfort and commitment from the players under Rickert, the Titans are setting their sights high for the 2016 season with a playoff berth being the expectation for the New Castle high school.
“I think the improvement from year one to year two has been made,” Rickert said. “I don’t think that we’d think any less of winning league or getting into the playoffs, but I do think it’s realistic; I’m not going to put anything out there for our kids that’s not [realistic]. But I definitely believe it, especially with the talent that we have and the kids putting in the work that they have, we should be right there battling for it.”
A large reason the Titans should be right in the mix this season for the playoffs is a more well-balanced offense featuring an experienced passing attack led by senior quarterback Jackson Sargent and senior receiver Jacob Morgan. Joining Sargent and Morgan is dynamic receiver Raul Ramirez, who has really impressed in summer workouts, while juniors Stephen Pizzelli and Lane Plummer could be in the mix at receiver as well.
“I’m really excited for the passing game this year,” Morgan said. “We’re a lot more comfortable in the system and things seem to be much sharper, so we hope that will translate over to the season. Jackson looks a lot better with his technique.”
One thing that should really push the passing game forward is the major step in development that Sargent should take in his third season as a starter in the black and blue. A lot of that has to do with added experience and confidence in the system, but one thing Rickert was quick to point out was his decision making.
“I’ve seen some improvement here in camp with the passing game,” Rickert said. “His reads and knowing where to go with the ball have been quick and decisive, and that’s the next step he needs to take.”
Along with an improved passing game, the Titans will once again feature a powerful rushing attack led by senior Cameron Chacon and junior Jacx Power. The duo should combine for solid production on the ground, providing serious balance for an offense looking to take a substantial step forward from an offense that averaged just 13.7 points per game in 2015.
“I want to make sure that Cameron and I can keep it going this year,” Power said. “Hopefully Cameron can stay healthy this year because we really need him, and with what we have up front with our offensive line we should do really well running the ball. The offensive line seems bigger than what we had last year, so I’m excited.”
Defensively, Coal Ridge hopes to make strides this season by cutting down on the number of points allowed per game. Now in the same system for the second year in a row, the Titans should be able to just react and play football at a high level this season, led by Ramirez and Morgan in the secondary, along with Chacon and Power at linebacker.
Adding to the depth at defense, Kevin Juarez and Gage Clemons will prominent roles along the defensive line, while guys like Tripper Gore and Eddy Baez will see some time at linebacker for the Titans.
“We’re running a similar defense to last year,” Morgan said. “I feel like we know the plays a lot better, and we feel so much more comfortable with the scheme and the coaching staff.”
But what it all comes down to with the Titans and the improvement that is expected in 2016 is the level of commitment shown from last season to this season when it comes to offseason work, both on and off the field. Really, that’s where the game is won and lost at its core, whether a team puts in the work during down time or not.
Fortunately for Coal Ridge, the players on this season’s roster have fully bought in to what the coaching staff is teaching and expecting.
“I’ve seen these kids working hard and buying into the program,” Rickert said. “We’ve had kids lifting and working out all summer, and they’ve all really bought in. They’ve become leaders and upperclassmen and have really been working hard, and the kids seem to really know what we’re trying to do here.”
Now, it’s time to see if all of that hard work and dedication will pay off on the field and result in an increase in wins and a 2A state playoff berth.
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