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Calhoun searches for rushing replacements in spring game (video)

Clay Whittington

By Clay Whittington
May 24, 2012 at 12:24 a.m.
Updated May 25, 2012 at 12:25 a.m.

Jimmy Gonzales, left, and J.R. Perez congratulate each other as Drew Ortiz turns to flash a smile at a teammate after Calhoun's spring game on Thursday.

SEE INTERVIEWS AND FOOTAGE FROM CALHOUN'S SPRING FOOTBALL GAME.

SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM CALHOUN'S SPRING GAME ON THURSDAY.

PORT LAVACA - Calhoun has more than three months until opening its season.

It is a good thing, too.

After losing four 1,000-yard rushers from its 12-1 team last year, the Sandcrabs participated in a fumbled-filled spring game Thursday evening.

The Black team rallied to earn a 20-13 victory, but, following the game, Calhoun head coach Richard Whitaker admitted the offense as whole has a lot of developing left to do.

"Our spring game is always ugly," the coach said. "We put ourselves in that position. We don't have 11 starters on either side of the ball out there, we've got them all intermixed. So, it is always kind of ugly.

"We've got a lot of holes to fill, but we've still got a long ways to go."

The Sandcrabs relied on a relentless running offense en route to the program's first undeafeated regular season in school history last year.

With Brandon Griffith, Joseph Bargas, Daniel Brooks and Jeremy Loya each topping the 1,000-yard plateau and contributing at least 11 touchdowns apiece, Calhoun cruised to an unblemished District 30-4A championship before advancing three rounds deep in the playoffs.

But the senior-laden squad's run ended inside the Alamodome against Kerrville Tivy, concluding the high school careers of 23 players, including the four pillars on offense.

Now, the Sandcrabs are searching for replacements to plug into the system.

Despite the frequent fumbles, numerous runs for little or no gain and routine miscommunications in the spring game, Calhoun has a number of candidates capable of making the transition.

Trey Robinson, an incoming senior, who ran the ball four times for 36 yards in 2011, more than doubled his entire rushing production from a year ago on one play in the first quarter Thursday.

Robinson recorded the game's opening score on an 80-yard run, giving the White team a 7-0 lead.

In the third quarter, he added another impressive run that would have gone for a 65-yard touchdown, but he lost control of the ball as he strode down the sideline.

"I think I had a couple good plays and a couple bad plays," Robinson said. "I think I played good, but I can still get better every day.

"(As a whole) we are starting brand new from scratch, but we are doing good."

Three other Sandcrabs - Juan Torres, Daniel Martinez and Brandon Smithwick - also posted rushing touchdowns as at least a dozen players took turns at the position.

"We are not seasoned at the fullback position with older kids, and at our slot back position, I have one older kid and the rest are younger kids, so that is a position that is a little concerning to me," Whitaker said.

While Whitaker is slightly unsettled with regard to his rushing players' overall experience, Robinson has no such reservations.

"Absolutely (we can be as good as last year's group)," Robinson said. "The whole backfield (was great), but we work hard, we hit the weight room hard, and, every practice, we go out there and give it all we got.

"We are going to be where we need to be when August comes."


CALHOUN GAME ASSESSMENT

A breakdown of what went well, where the Sandcrabs improved and where they will need work before next season.

• ENCOURAGING SIGNS: Everyone knew Calhoun wanted to run the ball, but few could slow down the Sandcrabs' rushing attack last season. This season, the team wants to continue the tradition and it appears the Sandcrabs have the potential to do so. Lots of different players showed good running ability in the spring game, including Trey Robinson, Cory Williams, Brandon Smithwick, Marus Klamm and Dakota Ring. The Sandcrabs will probably be unable to duplicate the success they had in 2011 with four 1,000-yard rushers, but they might be able to match the production with a deeper rotation. The running back by committee approach could actually diversify the Sandcrabs' offense by allowing the team to field a number of different looks tailored to the skill sets of its players.

•  TOP PERFORMANCES: While most eyes at the spring game were focused on the running game, Hunter Boerm was zoned in on learning to orchestrate the offense. The incoming junior never attempted a pass during his sophomore season as Joseph Bargas provided the team with a dual-threat weapon from under center. Following Bargas' departure, however, the 6-foot-2 quarterback appears to have all the potential to take over the position. He did a good job of controlling the Black team's offense and showed he can use his size to garner yards on the ground like his predecessor did, albeit not at the same level. Carlos Duenez, who primarily ran the White team's offense, could also make a run at the starting position, but it certainly looks like it is Boerm's job to lose.

•  WHERE THEY NEED WORK: As expected, the Sandcrabs are simply not a cohesive unit yet on offense. It is an understandable problem considering the personnel overhaul the team is undergoing, but they must eliminate the little mistakes that plagued it during the spring game. Assignments were missed, miscommunications were rampant and the ball was mishandled on countless occasions. Lots of drives ended in punts as the offenses failed to find ways to deliver first downs. Many of the problems can be corrected with additional time together on the field, but expectations of continuing last season's success are high in Port Lavaca. If the Sandcrabs do not find a way to limit the bad pitches, missed blocking assignments and overall poor execution, they could be in for a lot of criticism from fans and critics alike.

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