Full off-season under Downing has Titans eyeing improvement | PostIndependent.com

Full off-season under Downing has Titans eyeing improvement

Head Coach: Paul Downing, 2nd Year

Last Season: 1-8, 0-5 in 2A Western Slope League

Key Returners: Damian Spell, Sr.; Jordon Grant, Sr.; Karsen Dubois, Jr.; Jackson Wade, Jr.; Tyler Spell, So.

Players to Watch: Andrew Herrera, Jr.; Colby Hoffman, Jr.; Kobe Wild, Jr.; Danny Salas, Jr.; Jonathan McCartney, Jr.; Isaac Navarro, Jr.; Boston Huck, Fr.; Jason Mchatten, So.;Jesus Camunez, Fr.

Last season was sort of thrown together in the middle of July for then first-year head coach Paul Downing.

Former Coal Ridge Titans head coach Bob Frederickson resigned unexpectedly in the middle of the summer, putting the Titans’ football program in a bind. In stepped Downing, who inherited a program that was short on experience but long on talent.

Unfortunately, things were a whirlwind in Downing’s first season as players tried to adjust to a new coaching staff and a new scheme. That adjustment period lasted well into the season, resulting in a 1-8 mark and an 0-4 mark in 2A Western Slope League play.

That type of season could dampen a program’s spirits, but that didn’t happen with the Titans. In fact, the program has come back stronger and with more excitement under Downing, who enters his second year in charge of the program.

“We had no off-season last year, because I came in in the middle of July,” Downing said. “We were pretty minimal last year for our senior class size, and we just kind of threw it together last year in a short amount.

“This year though, we had a whole year together and a full off-season to get better, and we did everything we could possibly do to succeed this year. The kids worked all off-season, and our core group of guys that have put in a ton of work in the weigh room. We’ve had a whole year to prepare scheme-wise and just overall preparation wise.”

That full off-season should do wonders for the Titans, who see just three seniors return under Downing. Despite having a small senior class, the Titans have a ton of juniors, sophomores and freshmen that will contribute heavily to the Titans this fall.

Seniors Damian Spell and Jordon Grant return, providing the Titans with veteran leadership and experience, while junior quarterback Karsen Dubois returns for his second year in Downing’s system. Juniors Jackson Wade, Danny Salas, and Colby Hoffman provide the Titans with some junior playmakers, while freshman Jesus Camunez and Boston Huck, and sophomores Jason Mchatten and Tyler Spell return to give the Titans some beef up front.

While the Titans had a full season to prepare under Downing, Coal Ridge still stares down a tough 2A WSL, highlighted by Rifle, Delta and Aspen. In fact, each of those teams found themselves in the top 10 of the 2A preseason rankings in the state, making the 2A WSL one of the toughest leagues in the state at that level. That doesn’t even include the Basalt Longhorns, who should bounce back this fall.

“We didn’t win a league game last year, so obviously we want to do that this year,” Downing said. “There are some reall tough teams in our league; Delta’s gonna be really good, Rifle’s gonna be really good, Aspen and Basalt will still be solid. We knew that coming into it, so that’s why we did everything we could to put together a team can be competitive.”

If the Titans take the proverbial step forward in year two under Downing, a record improvement should be right behind, especially with a non-league schedule that includes Olathe and Hotchkiss at home, and Meeker and Paonia on the road.

jcarney@postindependent.com


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