By DAVID BORAKS
CORNELIUS - Hough High School’s football team plays its first home game of the season Friday night against Myers Park, and Huskies’ coach Bobby Collins is calling for a big crowd and a big win.
The Hough football program is in its third year, and is looking to improve on last year’s 4-7 record. The Huskies fell 31-14 at Independence last Friday night and come into this week’s game hungry for a victory.
“It’s a must-win,” coach Collins said several times during an interview before practice on Wednesday. “It’s a must-win because we haven’t won a home game in our stadium since 2010.”
That win, a 16-0 victory over Waddell, came in Hough’s first-ever home game in September 2010.
The team has come a long way since that first season. The Huskies play in the tough I-Meck 4A conference, which includes schools from Mecklenburg and Iredell counties. And coach Collins has set the bar high this year.
“The goal is to make it to the state playoffs,” he said. Last year, the Huskies came up a win short of qualifying for a playoff spot, and coach Collins is pushing the team hard to get there this year.
He’d also like to see a winning season, and thinks this year’s team has the best shot yet. “Some talent in our senior class could play college ball,” he said.
Leading the huskies again this year is third-year quarterback Josh Stilley, who has started since his freshman year, and carries a 4.0 grade point average.
“He’s very knowledgeable in the game of football, and he’s a coach on the field,” Collins said. “He’s even keel – he”s what you want on the field at the quarterback position.”
Stilley will be throwing to wide receivers Sanders Poff and Nick Burrow. Pacing the running game is senior running back Dre’an Long, who doubles on defense as a cornerback. Long had 91 yards rushing against Independence last week, and Collins thinks he could be pushing 100 yards in every game this fall.
“He’s an iron man for us,” the coach says. The Huskies also have returning starters on the offensive line.
Adding to Coach Collins’s confidence this season is strength on defense, particularly the defensive line of Blake Duiett, Michael Ramirez, Brandon Cassarino and Ronald Albritton. “I think they’re the best in the city,” Collins said.
And senior Ryan Lemke is back at middle linebacker. He started as a freshman at North Mecklenburg as a freshman, a year before Hough opened, and he’s become a defensive mainstay – “the anchor of our defense,” Collins said.
FACING MYERS PARK
A year ago, despite a good start in the game, Hough lost 55-28 to Myers Park. This year, Coach Collins thinks the two teams “are evenly matched.”
He said the Huskies will have to have a good running game against the well-coached Myers Park.
He’s hoping for a good crowd at the team’s first home game, and notes that Hough is the only area high school playing at home this weekend.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Hough Stadium, 12420 Bailey Road, Cornelius.
2012 HOUGH HIGH FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, AUG. 17, Independence 31, Hough 14, Charlotte
FRIDAY, AUG. 24, 7 p.m, home vs. Myers Park
THURSDAY, AUG. 30, 7 p.m., home vs. Providence
SATURDAY, SEPT. 8, 7 p.m., at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, Charlotte
FRIDAY, SEPT. 14, 7 p.m., home vs. Vance
FRIDAY, SEPT. 21, 7 p.m., at Hopewell High, Huntersville
FRIDAY, SEPT. 28, 7 p.m., home vs. North Mecklenburg
FRIDAY, OCT. 5, 7 p.m., home vs. West Charlotte
FRIDAY, OCT. 12, 7:30 p.m., at Mooresville High
FRIDAY, OCT. 19, 7:30 p.m., at Lake Norman, Mooresville
FRIDAY, OCT. 26, 7 p.m., home vs. Mallard Creek