By Jacob Schneider
After falling to 0-2 to start the season, Christ the King High School’s football program is looking to rebound and make a name for itself this season, its first playing at the AAA level in the Catholic High School Football League.
The Royals have sent out a young roster every week against stiffer competition than they’ve been accustomed to in previous years. The team has just four seniors this year on a 30-man roster, so it is forced to start underclassmen at most positions.
“We have the talent, it’s competing that’s the issue, moving up from AA to AAA,” said ninth-year head coach Jason Brown. “It’s an experiment and we want to see how well we can handle the competition.”
Christ the King is going to rely on the veteran leadership from their seniors to improve as a team. After losing 27-0 to Chaminade in Week 1, senior captain Nicholas Hunter said there are a lot of areas for the team to improve.
“We have to communicate more on the field and off the field,” the middle linebacker said. “We need to improve on both sides of the ball.”
Aside from experience and a jump in competition, another issue facing the Royals this season is conditioning. With only 30 players on the roster, most are expected to be playing on both sides of the ball, which requires everyone to be in better shape throughout the season.
“We only have about six linemen,” Hunter said. “We’re going to need the tight ends to step in and help the offensive line while the guys are getting better conditioned to play both sides of the ball.”
The Royals will also be relying on some of their younger players to step up into a leadership role. Sophomore running back and first-year varsity player Tirek Murphy was named a team captain before the start of the season.
“It felt great to be named captain,” Murphy said. “It just means that I would have to take on responsibilities for my team early and lead them in the right path.”
Murphy knows he’ll face adversity being a sophomore on the varsity squad, but he’s ready for the challenge and relishes the opportunity to be a starter at a young age.
“I’m confident in myself and my team as well,” Murphy said. “All summer, I worked myself every day, going to the gym late night, staying late after practice.”
Murphy also believes that experience he is gaining this season as a sophomore captain will help him in his remaining three years at Christ the King.
“Gaining recognition for my first year is most important to me because your first impression is what counts the most,” Murphy said.
While Coach Brown is focused on this season just going ahead game by game, he can’t help but think of the talent his young team will have in the future.
“We have a lot of 2020 guys,” Brown said. “That’s a really special class. We have some of those guys on JV and we’re expecting them to help a lot next season.”
The Royals are expecting this to be a tough season with AAA being a higher level of competition with more high-level college recruits coming out, but the young Royals are ready for the challenge and are looking to make some noise.
“Everyone doubts us since we’re a young team,” Murphy said. “I want to shock the league.”