Lake Norman & Mooresville

Huskies aiming to make impact in second year

Starting its inaugural season with impressive back-to-back wins, Hough fizzled out the rest of the year.

But the Huskies (2-8, 0-7 in I-Meck play) did well considering they didn't have any seniors and had to learn coach Bobby Collins' system in a short period of time.

Mecklenburg County's other new high school, Rocky River, was winless last year.

Collins said going through a tough season will pay dividends for the Huskies.

"They got the taste of losing in their mouths and they don't want that any more," he said.

Returning basically the same team, Hough hopes being a year older and having gained experience last year will help them start making more of an impact.

In order to do so, Collins said his team has not only dedicated the offseason to zeroing in on the Xs and Os but also to bettering the team's collective strength and conditioning.

"We were not strong enough to compete with people in the third and fourth quarters - they were physically, mentally stronger than we were," he said.

In the past few months, the Huskies also attended several NCAA Division I football camps - at South Carolina, Wake Forest and Alabama. Collins explained that going to college camps challenged his players to grow. He said his team rose up to that challenge.

"With everything that we did, we got better," said Collins.

Collins explained that the summer has been tough on his team when it comes to injuries.

"That hurts us a little bit, but we have a good nucleus of guys," he said, who declined to comment on individuals hoping some will be ready to play in Hough's opening game against Independence Aug. 19.

The offense should be led by senior wide receiver Brandon Mobley, who had 471 receiving yards and four catches for touchdowns.

Junior Nick Burrow and Sanders Poff should also help Mobley out wide. Senior Jared Sobo, who was second is receiving yards in 2010, should also contribute.

Throwing them the ball this season will be sophomore quarterback Josh Stilley, who split time with Keegan Brennan, now a senior, last year.

Stilley led the team in passing yards with 535, 93 more than Brennan. The two of them each threw for three touchdowns.

Hough hopes Stilley, who has impressed with his poise and arm strength, will be able to limit his turnovers after throwing for 10 interceptions last season.

Behind him, Jackson Campbell, a senior, will fill in at the running back position. Last year's leading rusher, Quintaris Jordan, left the Cornelius high school after last fall's semester. Fullback Issac Aiken, a sophomore, has also shown potential in the offseason and could have a breakout year, Collins said.

The offensive line will be led by center Jake McCreary, who started as a freshman last year, and senior Christian York.

Junior Brian Jones, who had a team-high 66 totals tackles last year, and senior Connor Millikin should lead the defensive unit as linebackers.

An all-senior defensive back led by corner Nate Mays, who was second in tackles for the Huskies, and safety Ben Craig could provide a challenge for opposing receivers.

Junior end Blake Dueitt should also play a key role in the defensive line alongside seniors Brian Graham and Seth Pope.

Collins said good defensive play could make a difference in the I-Meck, as will forcing more turnovers.

Hough also returns senior kicker Nathan Deering, who made 80 percent of his field goals and averaged nearly 38 yards per punt.

Having so many returners, Collins said he's looking forward to seeing his Huskies on Friday nights.

"With all of them having had playing time last year, it should be fun to watch them play," said Collins.