Daegu loaded with quality and quantity
Eighth in a series of high school football previews.
CAMP WALKER, South Korea – Compared to past seasons - when Daegu football would virtually take any player it could get - the Warriors are blessed this season with an embarrassment of riches. All told, 41 players are out for the green-and-white; normally, the team would field about half that. They sport five wide receivers all 6-foot-1 or taller. And four linemen weigh 235 pounds or more. “We’ve never had that before,” athletics director and assistant coach Ken Walter said. “In years past, we’d have between 15 to 18 players and wonder who we could pull from the JV just to fill out a travel team. Now, we have to decide who we should take.” Just some of the many new things in Warrior football country this season, starting at the top, where Walter, who served as head coach the previous six seasons, stepped back, while his defensive coordinator during that span, Luke Spencer, stepped up into the head coaching post. Practices are more regimented, with every drill timed on the score clock at Camp Walker’s Kelly Field, right down to 2 minutes, 40 seconds for water breaks. There’s more of a family atmosphere on the team, Spencer said; past teams had been plagued by cliques and divisiveness. No question, among the players they’ll take for the travel team, those five wide receivers should be among them. “I kind of benefitted from (basketball coach Phillip) Loyd and I working together,” Spencer said. Regarding the team’s physical size, Spencer and Walter each credited the work the players have done in the weight room, something the two have always emphasized over their tenure in Daegu. Chris Walker, a senior, weighs 235, junior Steven Robinet and sophomore Miguel Cardona 240 each and sophomore T.J. Masters tops out at 260. Sophomore receiver Torian James couldn’t deadlift 65 pounds when he came in last year, but now can lift 275 pounds 10 times, Spencer said. They and others hit the weight room and “became different,” he said, calling Robinet a “wrecking ball” and tailback Caleb Page a “beast.” “The weight room is helping us across the board,” he said. “We have a core group of kids who made the weight room their home.” If there is a big question, it may be at quarterback, manned by sophomore David Cooper. “He’s learning the position, but he has a sweet arm (and) plays the game the right way,” Spencer said. One weapon Spencer is very high on is Page, who had 293 all-purpose yards in a 30-13 loss to Korea National University’s team in a preseason game Saturday. “Every time Page gets the ball, it’s a scoring opportunity,” he said. The Warriors could sparkle on special teams, with senior Patrick O’Houlahan as the main kick-return weapon. “He’s got some jets,” Spencer said. All told, the Warriors might well hold the ingredients for a return to the Far East Division II title game they won in 2010 and ’11; they failed to reach the game a season ago. “We have goals,” Page said. “We know if we go in, play hard and execute, we’ll win.”firstname.lastname@example.org