Star quarterback Peyton Matocha may be gone, but St. Thomas Catholic coach Rich McGuire isn’t using that as a crutch.
“We’ve got a lot of kids without experience that we’re going to need to step up,” he said.
Between Matocha, a freshman at the University of Miami, and former tailback Ian Wheeler, McGuire and his staff must replace more than 6,000 yards of production and 67 touchdowns. St. Thomas also graduated a couple of key offensive linemen.
“If they’ve been watching what others have done in front of them and follow that lead, we should be all right,” McGuire said.
Junior Maddox Kopp was the frontrunner at quarterback heading into preseason camp, while leading receivers Josh Crissmon (845 yards, 10 touchdowns last year) and Spencer Kryger (490 yards, two touchdowns) figure to be his primary targets. Meanwhile, tailback John Fontenot looks to be the leader to step into Wheeler’s shoes, but McGuire acknowledged that remains up in the air.
“We have some weapons on offense. We’ve just got to find someone else to fit into the backfield,” McGuire said. “Peyton was a very dynamic athlete, which is extremely rare in a quarterback. Our scheme really won’t change at all, just a different style of player running it. Maddox is a great athlete and very skilled, just a different look at the position.”
The offense’s performance will be dictated by its front line, however, and McGuire acknowledged many questions remain there. While Travis Taylor and Elijah Carter return, the Eagles are also looking at all-district defensive end Max Garcia as an option along with junior Sam Fordyce.
“Otherwise, it’s a bunch of guys who didn’t get many reps last year and have to grow up real fast and jump in there to see what happens,” McGuire said. “We basically look at the first six games as scrimmages where they run the clock. You can go 0-6 there and win a state championship. We’re hoping to get kids some reps and see who rises to the top with those live bullets and live action.”
The Eagles kick off their season Aug. 30 with a 7 p.m. road game against Strake Jesuit.