By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
There’s one thing the 2015 Healdsburg High football team wants to put well in its rearview mirror: the 2014 football season.
After back-to-back playoff campaigns in coach Todd Beth’s first two seasons as coach at Healdsburg, the Greyhounds’ 1-9 campaign has lots to forget and has this year’s squad looking to prove that it was nothing more than a one-season fluke.
“I’m looking forward to proving people wrong, that we’re not a 1-9 team,” said Bryant Herrguth, who was first-team All-SCL in 2014. “That we’re a much better team than that.”
The 2014 team featured 22 players at the start, but finished the season with just 16 due, in part, to injuries that plagued a depth-deprived team. Beth said the team was basically “beat up.”
But times have changed. Beth says this year’s team already has 39 players, a healthy size for a team like Healdsburg.
“We have a lot of first-time players,” Beth says of the 30 or so underclassmen. “We’re young, but we definitely have a little more depth than we did last year.”
The seniors on this year’s team are focused on making the squad united, something they felt may have been lacking in the trenches last season.
“We almost lost hope. We started bagging on each other,” wide receiver/strong safety Cody Koch said. “We kind of like closed off. We stopped caring. It was definitely bad.
“We’re trying to take our mistakes last year and turn that into success.”
The 2014 record didn’t reflect that the Greyhounds lost three games by three points each, another by a touchdown. But cohesiveness could have made the difference in any three of those games. Herrguth said the players organized a team get-together last weekend to build on things like that.
“I looked at the way I interacted last year, and I look at trying to be vocal and trying to be leader with my teammates” he said.
Herrguth, who starts on both sides of the ball, is expected to be one of the more dynamic players on the squad, building upon his success last year. So is Newman, who could see time away from his spot as an anchor on the offensive line and be plugged into a skill position. He’s been studying the playbook down to every detail in case he’s called upon to do that.
“It is a little difficult. I ask a lot of questions if I do something wrong. I go in and make the next play right,” Newman said. “It does take a lot of work to learn it. You kind of get it caught in your head as muscle memory.”
Koch is expected to lead the secondary, in addition to being one of the leading route runners for quarterback Levi Yeley, a junior who is in his second varsity season.
“He’s got great hands on the offensive side of the ball,” Beth said of Koch’s skillset.
Herrguth, Koch and Newman are three of the nine seniors on the team, but they won’t be the only players to look up to for first-year sophomores and juniors on the roster this season.
“We’re leaning less towards captains and more towards leaders,” Koch said. “Because we can’t have that many captains, people are taking upon themselves to do what they can to bring the team together and contribute to our team.”
And the goal is ultimately to look ahead and plan for the postseason in a few weeks.
“We want to drive people away from last year. … We definitely want to walk away from that,” Herrguth said.
Coach: Todd Beth (4th year)
2014 record: 1-9, 1-5 in SCL
2014 JV record: 5-5, 5-1 SCL
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Levi Yeley, Jr. QB/DB: Coach Beth expects Yeley to take a step up in his second varsity season. “We pulled him out and plugged him in” in 2014, Beth said. The coach expects the speed of the game will slow down a little bit in Yeley’s second season.
Bryant Herrguth, Sr. TB/OLB: A first-team all-league athlete in 2014, Beth said, “He’s a very athletic and strong kid; very durable, great leader on and off the field.” He can be an every-down back.
Cody Newman, Sr. OL/MLB: Beth expects Newman to anchor the offensive line, especially at center and guard. “He’s possibly going to play a skill position if need be. He’s that athletic.”
Cody Koch, Sr. WR/DB: Koch is expected to make the calls in the secondary. Beth expects him to step up this season. “He’s got great hands on the offensive side of the ball.”
GAME NOT TO MISS
Beth said Petaluma is generally a close matchup, citing 2014’s game that saw the Greyhounds fall on a 40-yard field goal with no time left on the clock. Newman and Koch picked Cloverdale, noting a somewhat local rivalry despite being nonleague opponents. Herrguth said Analy.
Healdsburg won its first North Coast Section title in 1991, defeating Marin Catholic 21-7 at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Aug. 29 at Drake 2:00
Sept. 4 Kelseyville 7:30
Sept. 11 at Lower Lake 5:30
Sept. 18 Cloverdale 7:30
Sept. 25 El Molino* 7:30
Oct. 2 Elsie Allen 7:30
Oct. 9 at Petaluma 7:30
Oct. 16 Analy 7:30
Oct. 23 at Sonoma Valley 7:30
Oct. 30 Piner 7:30
* at Windsor High School