LONGMONT — After reaching the playoffs for the first time in school history last season, coach Jason Klatt and the Mead Mavericks are anxious to get back.
The path back to the postseason is one fraught with many obstacles, but Klatt feels his team is up to the challenge.
Mead returns a playoff savvy group of seniors that are eager to prove that they can compete with the state's elite.
And boy, will they get their chance. The Mavericks schedule is chock-full of some of 3A's heavy hitters — and most of those are in the redesigned Tri-Valley League.
"I think we are ready for it. These are just blue-collar, hard-working kids and we are ready for the challenge we are about to face," said Klatt, who enter his fifth season in charge of the Mead football program. "I think it is one of the, if not the, hardest schedules in 3A. We are going to run the gauntlet."
And if they manage to escape unscathed against the nonleague-likes of Lewis-Palmer, Thompson Valley, Longmont and Fort Morgan as well as Tri-Valley juggernauts Roosevelt and Holy Family, they will wrack up huge RPI points in the new system and be well prepared for a 3A playoff tournament that arguably could be the best in the state.
"That is what we have become. We want to play the best competition and our kids are ready for that," Klatt continued. "Coming off a playoff run last year, that really helped the program and the direction we are going."
The Mavericks will be solid offensively. The return seven of their 11 starters on that side of the ball that put up 340 points (an average of 30.9 per game) last season.
Led by quarterback Riley Glynn, the Mavericks backfield of Nathan Mackey, Gino Musick and sometimes Derek Edwards, will be as formidable as you will find. Maybe the numbers didn't dictate it last season, but that quartet is more than capable to doing some damage.
"It's not like we are starting over. We like to run the football, and we believe that running the football and playing defense is how you win game," said Klatt, whose quarterback threw 15 touchdown passes last year against just five interceptions.
"But at the same time we believe we have the ability to open it up and throw it down the field if teams are just going to stack the box on us."
The only question mark that seems to hover over the Mavericks is their experience on defense. They had the same problem going into last year, but figured it out quickly by pitching three shutouts and hold four other opponents to single digits.
"The confidence level is high, but it is also humble," Klatt said. "We know we are going to have to outwork people and we would never assume we could just walk out onto the field, roll the ball out and win.
"They know what they are about to face and what is about to happen. But you can look at it one of two way; either we have to go play them or they've got to come play us."
COACH: Jason Klatt (5th year, 22-18)
LAST YEAR: 8-3 overall; 5-2 Tri-Valley League (lost 48-38 to The Classical Academy in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs)
RETURNING STARTERS: Mark Angus (Sr., OL, 6-0, 205); Garrett Borger (Sr., OL-DL, 6-3, 240); Derek Edwards (Jr., TE/RB, 6-2, 210); Riley Glynn (Sr., QB, 6-2, 175); Brandon Landgridge (Sr., TE-LB, 6-6, 195); Ryan Lavanchy (Jr., WR, 5-8, 175); Natahan Mackey (Jr., RB, 5-9, 170); Shane Miyake (Sr., DL, 5-11, 230); Gino Musick (Sr., RB, 5-10, 190).
OTHERS TO WATCH: None.
D1/COLLEGE PROSPECTS: Borger, Glynn, Landgridge, Miyake.
MUST-SEE GAME: Oct. 23 vs. Northridge.
STRENGTHS: The Mavericks have some stout numbers and a ton of talent returning on the offensive side of the ball.
WEAKNESSES: Might take a little bit more time for the defense to gel. There is talent there, it is just younger and more inexperienced.
Sept. 2 — LEWIS-PALMER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 — Vista PEAK, Prep (Aurora Public Schools Stadium),6:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 — at Thompson Valley (Ray Patterson Field), 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — LONGMONT, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — FORT MORGAN, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — at Roosevelt*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — FREDERICK, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — at Holy Family*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — ERIE*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 — at Berthoud*, 7 p.m.
Note: Home games uppercase. Asterisk indicates 3A Tri-Valley League game