By Ben Murphy
The mantra for the Harrison football team’s 2013 season is to start faster. Last year, the Hornets won three-of-their last five games, and lost narrow contests in the other games to finish 3-6. Sixth year head coach Mike Petrongelli has been stressing the need to start strong right out of the gate this year.
“We have to start the season off a lot stronger than we did last year,” he said. “That’s what we’re working towards, trying to get everything ready for the first game against Lake City (Aug. 29 at Lake City).”
Returning to the team are seniors Justin Yager (quarterback, defensive end), Ryan Johnson (running back, linebacker), Matt Haskell (quarterback, linebacker), Simon Reynolds (wide receiver, defensive back), Josh Cosgrove (wide receiver, defensive back), Nathan Lipovsky (guard, linebacker), Josh Kiger (tackle, defensive line), John LaTulip (tackle, defensive line), Derrick Davis (tackle, defensive line) with juniors Bret Coughlin (wide receiver, linebacker) and Clay Dennis (center, defensive line). Petrongelli pointed out LaTulip, Yager, Lipovsky, Haskell, Johnson, Kiger, Coughlin, Dennis and Davis as his top returning players.
New to the team are Zack Nowland (running back, defensive back), Thomas Nunnally (quarterback, defensive back), Josh Wilson (running back, defensive back), Gavin Rhodes (running back, defensive back), Jason Brewer (running back, defensive back), Trenton Searight (wide receiver, defensive end), Cody Forster (wide receiver, defensive end), Justice Walraven (running back, defensive back), Dominik Larman (running back, defensive back), Dennis Cross (guard, defensive line), Nicholas Currie (guard, linebacker), Kain Hodyson (guard, defensive line), Jacob Solosky (guard, defensive line), Michael Taylor (center, defensive end) and Ray Brubaker (tackle, defensive line).
Petrongelli expects Nowland, Nunnally, Taylor and Brubaker to be his top newcomers. Nunnally and Yager are in a battle for the quarterback position with Nowland, Haskell, Yager, Nunnally and Johnson all expected to see significant carries running the ball.
“I feel pretty good about where we are right now,” Petrongelli said. “We have covered everything that we needed to cover. We seem to be fairly physical and we’re injury free right now. Right now, we’re in pretty good shape.”
As for the Jack Pine Conference, Petrongelli sees six-time defending champion Clare as the top team, with a few others close behind.
“Clare, Gladwin, Meridian and Roscommon,” he said of contending JPC teams. “To beat them we will need to make fewer mistakes than they do.”
Harrison opens the season with a non-league game at Lake City on Thursday. The Trojans thumped the Hornets 60-7 last year. Lake City is coming off a 10-2 season last year that saw them win a district title before falling to Ishpeming in the division seven regional finals.
“We’re going to watch them at their scrimmage and we’ll know more at that time,” Petrongelli said. “They have been a very good football team the last couple years and I don’t see any reason to why they won’t be this year so we’ll have to be ready right off the get-go to take them on.”