BROOMFIELD — Monty Python is rarely the wellspring of football inspiration, but this season Holy Family’s defense has made one of the British comedy troupe’s silliest, albeit most determined, characters a role model.
The Tigers have gone about calling themselves the Black Knights, after the character from “Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail.”
The medieval warrior only had a short part in the film, but is one of the movie’s most memorable individuals. Despite having both arms and legs cut off in combat, the Black Knight taunts his opponent and begs for more battle, shaking off his dismemberment as a “flesh wound.”
Certainly the Tigers do not expect to be disarmed or cut off at the knees, but similar to the Black Knight, the defense aims to always do battle, no matter the damage.
“It really is the idea that we will keep fighting no matter what our circumstances are,” Holy Family coach Mike D. Gabriel said.
Holy Family’s defense is expected to take the lead early on in the team’s second Class 3A campaign. That side of the ball has the bulk of returning starters and some of the team’s top players.
Kyle Spengler and Sam Quinn are two of the most notable talents back, with the linebackers producing a majority of their team’s stops last season. Spengler had 74 tackles and Quinn had 72. Those two hope to go a long way in helping the defense glaze over its most untested areas, its line.
“We’ve got some pressure on us coming into the season, with our experience,” Spengler said. “It’s going to be a matter of us coming out hitting and hitting every play.
Offensively, the Tigers have some proven assets.
The team’s 2010 leading rusher Connor Clay is back on the roster, with the running back aiming at surpassing his 1,016 yards from last season. And tight end Garrett West and receiver Gintas Jarasuis are a couple of reasons why Gabriel believes this is the team’s strongest and fastest corps of skilled players.
Even with key cogs back, the offense has a slew of new faces, including at quarterback. David Sommers is the first sophomore to start at the position in nearly a decade and while he has shown glimpses of brilliance, he has his work cut out for him.
“But we’ve got a lot of fire in our belly to prove ourselves,” Sommers said. “We really feel like we are a playoff team this season.”
Holy Family faces its obstacles, but has the motivation to overcome them.
The Tigers’ opening season in 3A in 2010 was not disastrous, but also left a bad taste in the team’s mouth. The team dropped three games, just enough to miss the wild-card spot for the playoffs by two-tenths of a power point.
With the missed opportunity fueling the team’s fire, the Tigers are more than ready to roar this season.
“From what I’ve seen, we have the talent to win our conference,” Gabriel said. “From there, the team has stated its goal as earning a state title. But it’s going to take us figuring out how to be consistent.”
Holy Family at a glance
Coach: Mike D. Gabriel (fourth season, 22-10).
Last year: 7-3, did not qualify for Class 3A state playoffs.
Returning starters: Connor Clay (Sr., RB, 5-8, 160); Garrett West (TE, Sr., 6-0, 185); Gintas Jarasuis (WR, Sr., 6-2, 185); Walker Prieb (C, Sr., 5-11, 180); Jarred DeHerrera (FB, Jr., 5-10, 170); Nico Elliott (DL, Sr., 5-10, 180); Jacob Balthazar (DB, Sr., 5-10, 165); Scout Cox (DB, Sr., 6-0, 165); Sam Quinn (LB, Sr. 6-2, 205); Kyle Spengler (LB, Sr, 5-9, 175).
Others to watch: David Sommers (QB, So., 6-0, 175); Dante Cowell (DL, So., 6-0, 175).
College prospects: Quinn, Balthazar, Spengler.
Must-see game: ERIE (Sept. 9).
Strengths: Gabriel pegs this team as his fastest and strongest, giving the Tigers a physical edge in their second year of Class 3A play.
Weaknesses: Consistency hamstrung Holy Family in 2010 and will continue to be an area of concern early on this season.
Sept. 2 — Steamboat Springs, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 — ERIE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 — CONIFER, 6 p.m.
Sept. 23 — CENTAURUS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 1 — Denver North, 1 p.m.
Oct. 6 — SKYVIEW, 6 p.m.
Oct. 15 — Kennedy, 10 a.m.
Oct. 21 — ARVADA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 — D’Evelyn, 4 p.m.
Nov. 3 — Alameda, 6 p.m.
Note: Home games in upper case.