The pops of hard-pad hits brought smiles to sweaty faces of players and coaches June 6 during the Littleton football team's scrimmages against Englewood, Jefferson and Lincoln.
Littleton hired Kurt Krantz as head football coach during the off season, so the scrimmages were his first opportunities to see his players compete in full pads against an opponent.
“I was very pleased with how our kids performed,” Krantz said of his team's performances in the scrimmages. “You aren't sure what to expect when you take over a program, and I am pleased to say I saw a lot of good things in the scrimmages. I saw our kids doing what we asked and I saw them get better and more confident as the scrimmages progressed. It was a good day overall as our young kids stepped up to compete and our seniors provided leadership.”
He and his assistants did a lot of coaching after most plays during the scrimmages. On offense, the coaches talked to the linemen about blocking assignments and to backs about improving how they run a play. Defensively, the focus was making sure the first tackle was secured to bring down the ball carrier.
Krantz said he has 45 players out for the team, which includes 15 seniors.
“We want out seniors to be the leaders,” he said. “We are putting the responsibility on their backs. It is their team and we'll take it as far as it will go.”
He said he has two players who could see time at quarterback: junior Joey Drennan and senior Nick McNamee, who saw some time with the varsity calling signals last year.
“We have returning lettermen at several skill positions but we lost a couple linemen to graduation, so we are looking for young kids to fill those spots,” he said. “We plan to mix it up on offense, looking to gain yardage on the ground and with the pass. We also want to focus on playing great defense, which is a key.”
Senior quarterback McNamee said the hit camp has gone great for him, because it was time to learn the new offense installed by the new coach, and also to get everyone motivated to focus on football.
“The camp also was good because the coaches worked with me to help me learn to play safety this season. That was all new to me because I have never played defense before,” he said.
He said the team looks better than last year, as the players are coming together and are focusing on playing good football and winning games.
“Personally, I just want to do my best to help the team because my goal and the goal of our team are to make the state playoffs,” he said.
Teammate Patrick Healey said he is excited about getting to play football because he missed all of last football season with a broken foot.
“Even though it is summer, it feels great to be out on the football field,” he said. “I love football and being out here is fun.”
Healey is slated to play defensive end. He said he enjoyed the scrimmage because he got to hit and tackle someone other than teammates.
“I like to play defense and defensive end is where I like to play,” he said. “I have played defensive tackle, and I like defensive end better because it usually is more of a one-on-one matchup instead of being double-teamed inside.”
Healey said he likes the way the team is looking so far. He said he watched the offense get rolling in the scrimmages and he felt the defense played well against all three teams, so he is looking forward to fall and the start of the regular season.