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Hohenfels has mainly new group, but same goals

Hohenfels' Miguel Lugo passes to Anthony Gonzales while Julian Walker jumps up to block the pass during practice at Hohenfels, Germany, Aug. 29, 2017.

MARTIN EGNASH/STARS AND STRIPES

By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 1, 2017

Fourth in a series of DODEA-Europe high school football previews.

HOHENFELS, Germany – The Hohenfels Tigers, who lost to European Division II champion Rota in last year’s playoffs, look to make a return trip with a largely new team this year.

Hohenfels is a small team, with a roster of just over 20 athletes, and only three returning players: Jean Morales, Liam Lankford, and Julian Walker. So the Tigers are working from the ground up to build a new team.

“It’s challenging going into the season with a whole new team,” coach Phil Rigdon said. “You need to teach them all new plays, and figure out how to work together, as one.”

But the fresh new team gives the Tigers one advantage; like raw clay, they can mold the new players into the team they want.

The Tigers are working hard on their conditioning this year, and focusing on ways to prevent injury during the season.

“Some of our players weren’t used to the kind of conditioning we do here,” Rigdon said. “Some of the kids showed up in good shape, but football conditioning is like no other. And we aren’t making it easy for them.”

The Tigers offensive line is stronger than in years past and their new quarterback, Devin Elekes, is also showing promise, Rigdon said.

“We have a lot of new tools to take onto the field this year, that I didn’t have before. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with them,” Rigdon said.

Even with such a new team, the Tigers are going into the season confident they can compete.

“This team already works well together,” Rigdon said. “They’re more focused than we’ve ever been. I think this is going to be our year.”

Of course, old grudges die hard. The Tigers are looking to avenge their loss to Rota last year.

“Rota is kind of my nemesis this year,” Rigdon said. “They have a good team, and have a good coach, but I think we can beat them. I challenge them to get on a bus, and come here to play.”

egnash.martin@stripes.com 

Twitter: @Marty_Stripes

The Hohenfels Tigers work their cores doing bicycle crunches at Hohenfels, Germany, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017.
MARTIN EGNASH/STARS AND STRIPES

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