The question is not if, but when for Erie senior Trevor David.
When David gets back on the football field, you likely aren't going to find a happier young man. Not after the health scare he received during his physical earlier this summer.
One of the expected stars for the Class 3A Tigers on both offense and defense, David will miss the beginning of the season — hopefully not more than a couple of weeks — after it was discovered he had a growth on the back of his tibia.
It could have been a cancerous, but specialists gave him the good news recently that it was benign (osteochondroma) and easily removable. When Erie takes the field Friday for its opener, David will be recovering from having the growth scraped away and, barring infection, should be ready to go soon.
"I really was disappointed more than anything that it happened now, just not wanting to miss any football my senior year," David said. "I wanted to be the best that I could be and help push my teammates to their full potential.
"I feel very lucky that if everything goes well I'll hardly miss any of the season."
David is one of several returners for Erie who will be given the chance to have an impact on both sides of the football, as the Tigers bring back a load of experience to the skill positions and lines. As with a number of his teammates, David was used in the backfield and in the passing game for returning quarterback Ruben Portillo, who will be in his third year.
There are 25 seniors on the team for new head coach Chad Cooper, who coached under Gary Davies at Broomfield and brings a couple other former Eagles staffers with him.
That experience had helped Cooper immensely in grooming the kids to a new system offensively and defensively.
"Picking up on the (schemes) has really gone well," Cooper said. "When you have a new staff, offense and understanding the playbook is sometimes really hard to grasp. Because we have that maturity, guys who have been there, that's something that has come quickly."
After Erie scored just 15 points a game last year in going 5-5, Cooper's first task is to catch the offense up to the defense (which allowed just 18 points a contest). Behind a line that includes returning starters Gavin Sackett, Jonathan Phouminh, Cole Knudsen and Matthew Cavin, a productive tailback in sophomore Noah Roper and a when-ready David, there's optimism toward that challenge.
"I hope our strength will be to run the ball and set up the pass," Cooper said. "We're going to be a two-back team so we'll be able to run a lot of looks. We're formations guys, and we have an athletic team. And, Ruben is a guy that kept learning the offense while he was hurt this summer. He came back from a broken wrist in just a couple weeks, but was doing the mental reps the whole time."
"I think the relationship with the coaches and players is really strong, and we've communicated well throughout the summer," David added. "We went to a camp at CSU-Pueblo that went extremely well. We were playing 4A teams and we got a chance to play Pueblo East, too. We're very excited to see what our season holds."
The 3A Tri-Valley League has whittled down to just the Tigers, Roosevelt, Frederick, Mead, Holy Family and Berthoud (last year's league included Northridge and Niwot, or two of Erie's three league wins). The past three seasons has seen Erie go a combined 1-10 against Roosevelt, Holy Family, Mead and Berthoud.
That is what Erie will need to counteract in order to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
COACH: Chad Cooper (First year)
LAST YEAR: 5-5 overall, 3-4 Class 3A Northern League.
RETURNING STARTERS: Matthew Cavin (Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 190); Trevor David (Sr., RB/OLB/DB, 6-1, 180); Quintin Hyrup (Sr., WR/DB, 6-1, 165); Cole Knudsen (Sr., OL/DL, 6-1, 180); Jonathan Phouminh (Sr., OL/DL, 6-0, 248); Ruben Portillo (Sr., QB, 5-11, 180); Noah Roper (So., RB/DB, 5-11, 175); Gavin Sackett (Sr., OL/DL, 6-4, 210); David Unruh (Sr., RB/OLB, 5-8, 180).
OTHERS TO WATCH: Josh Cobb (Sr., RB/DB, 5-11, 165), Hunter Cremers (Sr., LB, 6-5, 200); Ryley Deckert (Sr., RB/DB, 5-8, 155); Camaeron Marcucci (Jr., OL/DL, 6-7, 250); Zach Roper (Sr., LB/FB, 6-0, 200).
COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Marcucci, David, Cremers, Sackett.
MUST-SEE GAME: Sept. 23 vs. Centaurus.
STRENGTHS: Cooper is an offensive line coach by trade and he is loving the fact he inherits a strong, experienced and big-for-3A group to work in the trenches. Portillo also is in his third year as the starter, a rare commodity.
WEAKNESSES: Injuries have already played a role in a couple position switches, but there's hope the Tigers will be fully loaded come league play.
Sept. 2 — VISTA PEAK PREP, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — at Eagle Valley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — at Northridge, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — CENTAURUS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 — at Silver Creek, Everly-Montgomery Field, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — BERTHOUD*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Holy Family*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — ROOSEVELT*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — at Mead*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 — FREDERICK*, 7 p.m.
Note: Home games upper case and at Tiger Stadium.
*Asterisk denotes 3A Tri-Valley League opponents.