Often a competitive small-school football program over the past decade or so, the 2014 season did nothing to whet the appetites of the athletes at Longmont Christian School.
As a result, the Warriors were not able to find enough players to field a team in 2015. It was a tough call from the school's administration, as it represented the first year LCS hadn't had a team out on the gridiron.
But Anthony Barela, who was hired prior to last season's cancellation, did his due diligence in trying to put a charge into the younger students at the school, and it seemed to work. Longmont Christian will be back at Sandstone Ranch this fall under the Friday night lights, playing 6-man.
"A lot of our problem came from (2014). I mean, they just got beat up pretty good and it just kind of had a negative impact on the whole school's community," said Barela, who was last an assistant at Smoky Hill. "When I came in, the kids didn't quite know if I was going to be the one to help turn things around at first. I think they've gotten the sense now that maybe we can make things work.
"With us being a K-12 school, I got the opportunity to work with the middle school flag football team just to try and get more buzz about the program and it seemed to work. These guys are ready to do stuff that maybe they've never seen before."
Indeed it was rough to watch the Warriors try and get through 2014 — the lone highlight of the season being Luke Puchino throwing for seven touchdowns at quarterback in the finale against Justice.
Just a couple of players from that team are back, and LCS will lean on three seniors to help push along a group of 17 overall — including three juniors, two sophomores and nine freshmen.
Puchino and Cameron Jauregui are two of those seniors — and they will look to rekindle that quarterback-wide receiver relationship that they had as sophomores (Jauregui caught five of Puchino's seven touchdowns in that aforementioned contest). Max Azar is the other senior, a good-sized athlete who will be counted on outside of the hash marks.
Matter of fact, Barela hopes his team will be able to take advantage of the edges of the field — though he is excited about the potential freshman Luke Seaver brings as a 6-foot-1, 225-pound presence on the line.
"We're hoping to use our speed because we don't have a ton of size," Barela said. "We're going to spread the field and throw it around, just hopefully get a little crazy with things."
LONGMONT CHRISTIAN WARRIORS
COACH: Anthony Barela (First year)
LAST YEAR: Was not able to field a team (lack of numbers)
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Max Azar (Sr., WR/CB, 6-0, 160); Jose Garcia (Jr., WR/DB, 5-11, 175); Cameron Jauregui (Sr., WR/CB, 5-10, 175); Luke Puchino (Sr., QB, 6-2, 190); Luke Seaver (Fr., C/NG, 6-1, 225).
MUST-SEE GAME: Oct. 7 vs. Pawnee.
STRENGTHS: After not having a team in 2015, the Warriors have a roster that is on par with the rest of 6-man, and Puchino heads up an athletic group.
WEAKNESSES: It is a must that the large freshmen class contributes immediately.
Sept. 2 — WELDON VALLEY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 — at Peetz, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — NORTH PARK, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 — at Fleming, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at Prairie, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — PAWNEE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — BRIGGSDALE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 — MOUNTAIN VALLEY, 6 p.m.
Note: Home games noted in upper case, at Sandstone Ranch.
*All scheduled games are A-6 North League opponents.