BROOMFIELD — Mike Gabriel and his staff have had one of the most lethal offenses in the state, regardless of classification, over the last decade.
Top-notch signal callers from David Summers to Chris Helbig have allowed the Tigers to create a playbook that would make some NFL offensive coordinators green with envy.
It would be a little hasty to say that those days are in the past, but the 2016 Holy Family Tigers will certainly have a distinctly different look to them.
"We left Pueblo (team camp earlier this summer) having competed with 4A and 5A schools and we thought we had the best four receivers in the camp," said Gabriel, who begins his ninth season at Holy Family and has amassed a 62-24 record over that time. "We are stacked and the O-line has experience and the defense played well too, I hope that carries over to the season."
A Holy Family media guide might have had the face of one or two players in the past, but this year there might not be enough room to fit the whole team. That is the mantra for success that the Tigers will need to have throughout not only their rugged nonleague schedule — four of their first five opponents are ranked in the CHSAANow. com Class 3A preseason poll — but also their new Tri-Valley Conference.
"We are going to be talented and we are going to be good," Garbriel said. "If we stay healthy, we are going to be good."
Fans got a sneak preview of what the Tigers might look like at the end of last season. After Helbig's injury in the second to last game of the season, Gabriel turned to then-freshman Stone Samaras, who in his first start at Northridge the following week threw for 372 yards and five touchdowns.
Samaras earned the job in camp and will have a multitude of targets to throw too and one very dangerous backfield mate in Mike Zeman.
Lost in the mix of Helbig's video-game number last season was Zeman's 1,000 yard rushing performance. The versatile back — with a perfect blend of power and speed — also scored 13 touchdowns.
"That's a tribute to his offseason work and he and Joey (Golter) are pound for pound the two strongest kids in the program," said Gabriel, whose seniors were on their retreat over the weekend. "He's a physical kid. He likes the contact, but he also enjoys a gaping hole, making the cut and avoiding the contact."
And Zeman is a good pass catcher out of the backfield. He was third on the team last year with 37 catches and eight more of those went for scores.
But the biggest pass catching threat for the Tigers is Golter. His ability to create space and break free from a defender is uncanny and last year he caught 58 passes for over 1,200 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. He along with Travis Montoya (33 catches last year), Kyle Helbig (34 receptions) and A.J. Giron will all give Samaras options.
"I know Stone is going to have his ups and down because he is a sophomore, but we are going to work through it," said Gabriel, who is confident in the O-line — which returns four of the five starters: including Nick Sloan, Cade Carter, Andrew Edward and Max Nelson — to protect the skill guys.
"He'll be fine and by the end of the year he'll be playing really well."
HOLY FAMILY TIGERS
COACH: Mike D. Gabriel (9th year, 62-24).
LAST YEAR: 8-3, lost 40-8 to Evergreen in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
RETURNING STARTERS: Andrew Callaway (Sr., LB, 5-9, 190); Cade Carter (Jr., OL, 6-0, 210); Andrew Edwards (Jr., OL, 6-0, 260); A.J. Giron (Sr., S, 5-9, 160); Joey Golter (Sr., WR-LB, 6-0, 190); Dilan Gonzales (Jr., LB, 6-2, 190); Kyle Helbig (So., TE, 6-4, 215); Travis Montoya (Sr., WR, 5-9, 165); Max Nelson (Sr., OL, 6-2, 210); Ryan Russell (Sr., DL, 6-4, 210); Nick Sloan (Sr., OL, 6-2, 220); Mike Zeman (Sr., RB-S, 5-10, 190).
OTHERS TO WATCH: None. "They've got to earn it first," Gabriel said.
DIVISION-I/COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Carter, Edwards, Giron, Gonzales, Montoya, Russell.
MUST-SEE GAME: Nov. 4 at Roosevelt, 7 p.m.
STRENGHTS: The Tigers lost some key players, but they have a ton of senior leadership and experience. And like most Holy Family teams, this one is blessed with speed all over the field.
WEAKNESSES: Maybe the one flaw that presents itself early on is simply size. They may come across some bigger lines, but the will more than make up for it with their speed.
Aug. 26 — at Mountain View (Ray Patterson Field, Loveland), 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 — PALISADE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — at Fort Morgan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — THOMPSON VALLEY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at Longmont, Everly-Montgomery Field, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — at Frederick*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — ERIE*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — MEAD*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — at Berthoud*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 5 — at Roosevelt*, 7 p.m.
Note: Home games upper case and at Mike G. Gabriel Stadium.
*Asterisk denotes 3A Tri-Valley League opponents.