Fast is the word around Juanita football these days, both in terms of the team’s strength and the Rebels’ preferred pace.
For the first time in a while, Juanita won’t revolve around its lines. Instead, the Rebels will lean on a deep pool of receivers and running backs and a new fast-tempo, no-huddle offense designed to take advantage of that.
“Our thinking right now in August is the faster the better for us,” Juanita coach Shaun Tarantola said.
That’s a rather drastic change from the last three or four years, when Juanita tried to slow the pace and eat up clock. “It wasn’t necessarily that we wanted to do that every year,” Tarantola said. “It’s just that’s what we were best at and what we had the personnel for.”
Not so this year.
In fact, Tarantola is so confident in his team’s depth at receiver and running back that he plans on using at least two guys heavily at each position. That should allow the Rebels to stay fresh while running their high-speed offense.
“You’re talking about 10 players that will be in position to catch passes or run the ball throughout the season, and we’re hoping to rely on them equally,” Tarantola said.
Trayon McNairy (6-0 205) returns as Juanita’s top running back while Kendrick Murphy (6-0, 170), Harley French (6-0, 200), Ty Griffith (5-11, 170) and Cody Otterholt (5-9, 165) provide plenty of receiving options.
The responsibility of delivering the ball to those weapons rests with Riley Hilliker (5-11, 180), who started a handful of games last year while splitting time at quarterback. This year, the job is all his.
“He’s a very accurate passer,” Tarantola said. “His strength is his accuracy. It’s been a good combination so far in practice.”
The concern is along both lines, where the Rebels will break in a bunch of new players. “They’re very talented but just young,” Tarantola said. “And we don’t have a whole lot of depth there.”
Players to watch:
WR/DB Kendrick Murphy, 6-0, 170
RB/LB Trayon McNairy, 6-0, 205
TE/LB Harley French, 6-0, 200
WR/DB Ty Griffith, 5-11, 170
WR/DB Cody Otterholt, 5-9, 165
QB Riley Hilliker, 5-11, 180
Game to watch:
@ Interlake on Oct. 26. Two teams looking to improve from sub-.500 records last year.
Can Juanita’s young line hold up against the experienced and tough groups in KingCo?