King’s counting on young players to grow into starting roles | Football

Knights return only six seniors from last year’s district playoff squad
By David Pan | Sep 05, 2019
Photo by: David R Pan King’s senior Colin Hamilton prepares to rush a teammate during a blocking drill at Woolsey Stadium.

The King’s offense can be summed up in three words – ground and pound.

With an offensive line led by all-league senior Colin Hamilton and an experienced senior quarterback in Luke Marion, the Knights have decided to run first and pass later.

King’s coach Jim Shapiro, who’s taken over as the team’s offensive coordinator, said that Marion is a capable quarterback with a great arm.

“Our passing game is pretty effective already,” Shapiro added.

So much of last spring and summer was focused on establishing the run game.

“We have our philosophy … which is to run all over them and then it air out when we establish the running game,” Marion said.

The Knights should have a fresh backfield most of the time with several running backs seeing action. Juniors Lachlan McGregor, Colton Fleming and Ben Edwards are ready to lead the ground attack. McGregor is the most experienced of the backs, while Fleming is shifting from wide receiver. Edwards is one of the school’s top baseball players.

“It’s nice to have depth,” Shapiro said.

The 6-foot-7, 275-pound Hamilton is joined by sophomore returner Campbell Wright, junior Elian Sundquist and sophomores Will Marquart and Lincoln Going on the offensive line.

“We’re developing more as a unit definitely,” Hamilton said. “It’s pretty exciting to see, especially at this point of the season. We’re starting to gel.”

Hamilton added he and his teammates still need to continue to work on their run blocking schemes. Repetition at practice will help the young line become a strong unit.

To be a successful ground and pound team means being really physical, Hamilton said.

“It’s being as close to perfect as we can and not letting mental mistakes or anything like that happen,” he added.

The Knights graduated a large senior class and return only six seniors this season. As a result, a number of sophomore and even freshmen are expected to see significant action.

Whatever concerns Shapiro may have had were eased by strong performances in the offseason and at fall practices.

“I’m pleased and surprised by how athletic and able the freshmen and sophomores are,” Shapiro said. “They’ve done a great job of learning the offense and defense. They’ll be plenty of freshmen and sophomores on the field this year.

“The young guys are talented enough to play. We’re going to play the best athletes. We’re not worried about age.”

Hamilton shares Shapiro’s sentiments about the younger players, especially on the line.

“I think they’ll respond well. From all indications from our team camp and from other experiences, it seems like they’ve risen to the occasion,” Hamilton said. “They’ve been able to get their jobs done.”

King’s does have experience with its group of wide receivers. Senior Davis Campbell earned first-team, all-league honors and senior Casey Needham, an all-league quarterback, is shifting to wide receiver. Juniors Anders Ruud and Anthony Scherrer also will be part of the passing attack.

“We’ve got speed across the board. We’ve got hands across the board,” Marion said. “We’ve got big offensive linemen.

The Knights open the season on the road at Lakewood in a nonconference game at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6.

Last season, the Knights dropped their four games but rebounded to win four of their next five regular season contests.

Hamilton wants to avoid a repeat of that start.

“Last year the big story for us was coming back from those first four losses and turning our program around,” he said. “I guess that mentality for me is to not let that happen again. Not have to have a turnaround and come out in the first game swinging like we did in the fifth game last year.”

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