Mead football may not have ended the 2020 season the way it wanted — with a state playoff berth and subsequent forfeit due to COVID protocols — but the Mavericks have sky-high confidence as the season begins.
The Mavericks have enjoyed Class 3A postseason berths each during each of the last six seasons and are, in a sense, becoming a perennial power within that classification. They finished second in a stacked 3A Northern League behind Roosevelt, who remained undefeated until the title game. Three teams from the conference comprised a large chunk of the eight teams that made it to the postseason.
This year, they’re ready to step up once more to punch their ticket back to state and are riding that motivation heading into their home opener on Friday night at 7 p.m. against Pueblo Centennial.
“The energy has been really good so far,” head coach Jason Klatt said. “I think it is with everybody right now, just because of COVID and the shutdown and everything that’s happened. The kids just want to play and they want to get out and they want to have fans and they want to experience what is high school football and the community event that it is. The excitement for that has been great and the anticipation is building for Friday night. We’re just hoping that all that hoopla and stuff can kind of go to the wayside and that our guys will execute and play fast.”
The Mavericks lost some top offensive guns in Brayden Keys and Nathan Bailey, who combined for 829 rushing yards and 425 receiving yards, but will keep many of the men in the trenches from last year.
That maturity could prove vital in the long run.
“I think we worked really hard every day to make sure our team chemistry there,” senior running back Corby Tecu said. “We’re returning every single offensive lineman so, from that standpoint, it all starts with the line. … For us, it’s knowing that we have an offensive line that is more experienced this year and has gotten better, they also work hard and are giving us their full effort. It makes our jobs as running backs and skilled positions as a whole just a lot easier.”
More than anything, the Mavericks will look to senior quarterback Gavin Garrettson, who paced his team with 891 yards on 38 completions through six games last season. The Evergreen transfer played his first full season with Mead in 2020.
Now, he has a better understanding of how his boys operate and they now know how to run with their frontman. It certainly helps that he has a lot of weapons to work within any given situation.
“We got guys all over,” Garrettson said. “Our O-line, they’re dominant up front and our running backs, they can run the ball. We got fast guys on the outside that we can throw the ball to, so it’s just helpful to know that we got ins and outs everywhere, so running the ball, passing the ball, whatever. It’ll work.”
As the season gears up and the Mavericks start facing competition, they’ll have to work around losing a good amount of size from their roster from their 2020 campaign. What they lack in size, however, they more than make up for in athleticism.
Either way, the players are feeling confident as they prepare for whatever this new schedule may throw at them.
“Some people would say that the game is won before the game even starts by just looking at your opponent, so I think that’s how it’s going to really help us, to get in our enemy’s heads,” senior middle linebacker Jeremiah Strizki said. “They’ll be scared, I think, before they come on the field.”