Hoopeston Area football numbers improving

Hoopeston Area football numbers improving

HOOPESTON -- The numbers within the Hoopeston Area football program are looking better.

Some of the prominent numbers in the second year of Jeff Ohlemeyer's coaching tenure are 3, 16, 7 and 50.

3 -- That's the number of football coaches (out of four) who are in the building at the high school. That's important for a district where recent head coaches were not at the school during the day. Their presence, Ohlemeyer said, "helps monitor behavior and holds kids accountable."

16 -- That's the number of lettermen who return.

7 -- That's the number of letter winners among the nine offensive line candidates, whom Ohlemeyer believes will be "key contributors."

50 -- That's the total turnout for football at a school trying to snap a 14-year streak of sub-.500 seasons.

In the weeks ahead, there might be more impressive numbers to add to the list: wins. Hoopeston Area hasn't qualified for the postseason playoffs since 1993.

The veteran linemen will be blocking for an inexperienced backfield. Junior Tate Compton takes over at quarterback for Brock Baker, who passed for at least 650 yards each of the past three seasons.

Four of the top ball carrying prospects are sophomores.

Up front, four starters return, including tackles Andrew Colunga (290 pounds) and Noah Hardy (215) along with center Kyle Ramos (240) and guard Shane Thompson (205).

Senior newcomer Hayden Cornelius (240) is a prospect at guard as are Dylan Clingenpeel (200), Tim Hicks (215) and Gage Wilson (210).

Tackle Tim Michaels (275) is also in the group that Ohlemeyer expects to make an impact.

The Cornjerkers could use a rotation system in the backfield where sophomores are prevalent. Fullback Zack Thrasher is a 175-pounder who has added 15 pounds since last year.

Reuben Martinez, Andre Colunga and JoJo Thrasher will add to the backfield depth. There could be additional candidates.

"I'm pleased with the freshmen class skill kids," Ohlemeyer said. "There are some guys, who if they don't contribute this year, will help turn the program around."

Another area of strength on offense is the receiving corps.

Junior ends Jason Leigh (21 catches, 262 yards) and Cody Eells (13 catches, 297 yards) were prominent pass-catchers in 2007. Eells is the team's swiftest runner.

They'll be joined by junior Andrew Vaughn, who was sidelined much of last season with a broken foot.

Compton, last year's junior varsity quarterback, will be at the controls offensively as he replaces Baker and his 1,758 yards of total offense as a senior.

"Tate brings some different things to the table," Ohlemeyer said. "He doesn't have breakaway speed, but he's a more physical kid."

Ohlemeyer hopes Hoopeston will be able to emphasize the run more this season.

"We'll attempt to be more balanced," he said. "We didn't feel secure with our running backs last year and went to an open set."

The Cornjerkers open at home against East Central on Aug. 29. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Ohlemeyer is being assisted by Ryan High, Ryan Moreland and Eugene Warner.

While many Vermilion County schools have had fewer two-a-day practices this year than normal due to an earlier start to school, Ohlemeyer has kept his squad going through double sessions. He has brought the team in at 6:30 a.m. this week for pre-school workouts.

He's liking what he's seeing in attitude and work ethic and is optimistic about what that could mean.

"We feel we can be competitive," Ohlemeyer said.

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