Young Hope football team looking to build on success

Published 8:34 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Hope Christian School football team is preparing to begin the 2011 season after finishing last year undefeated in the regular season. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A year after finishing their regular season undefeated and claiming the Alabama Christian Sports Conference championship, the Hope Christian School Eagles are preparing for a rebuilding year.

“The past two years have been really good,” said Hope head football coach Mark Rettig. “But for our competition, we are on the top in their minds. We are the ones to pass, and that is to be expected.”

Last season, the Eagles defeated most of their opponents by several touchdowns, including rival Evangel in the ACSC championship game.

After graduating 11 seniors last year, Rettig said he is looking for leadership from a youthful team.

“We have about eight or nine seniors on the team right now, but a couple of our seniors are struggling with injuries,” Rettig said Aug. 17. “I think we have got the techniques and basics down pretty good right now, but we will have a much better understanding of where we stand after Friday night.”

The Eagles open the season Aug. 19 at Evangel Family Christian Academy in Montgomery, and the game will be a tough test for the young Hope football team, Rettig said.

“Our competition knows what they have to do to beat us. They expect to play a really strong team,” Rettig said. “I think that game is going to be a struggle for us. Some of our guys are going to have to step up pretty quick.”

Rettig said the Eagles will not lack experience this season, as many of the players have been with the team for years. However, he said the team may be lagging behind in size compared to some of its competition.

“In high school, when you talk about not having seniors, you talk about not having size,” Rettig said. “From 16 to 18 years old, a kid may grow 4 to 6 inches a year.”

Senior Eric Spence will anchor a three-man rotation at quarterback, with junior Charles Streets and sophomore Dillon Thompson sharing the playcalling duties.

“They will rotate quite a bit. If one of them is playing quarterback, the other two will be receiving,” Rettig said.

The Eagles will also feature more rushing plays than they have in the past few years, which will give the team a more balanced offensive attack, Rettig said.

Hope is most inexperienced on the defensive side of the ball, with only two players returning from last year.

“I believe our biggest struggle will be the lack of maturity and experience on our defense,” Rettig said. “The spread in points may be a little bit closer this year.”