Hawks feel good about development of special teams

Sophomore Cole Starr (#33) and freshman Zach Johnson (#47) are the frontrunners to handle Huntingdon's placekicking and punting responsibilities this season.
Sophomore Cole Starr (#33) and freshman Zach Johnson (#47) are the frontrunners to handle Huntingdon's placekicking and punting responsibilities this season.

Head Coach Mike Turk on Day 9 of preseason camp: "After scrimmaging on Thursday, we started a little slow today. But we were able to get going as practice went along and we were able to get some work done. Overall, nine days into the preseason, we're seeing some good things on both sides of the ball and a lot of things that we need to keep working on.

"It's just hard to gauge some things when you're going against yourself. If the offense is struggling, it's hard to know if it's lack of execution on the offense's part or really good play on the part of the defense. But the biggest thing is we have a lot of guys working hard, learning and improving on both sides of the ball."


Position Spotlight – Special Teams

Projected Starters:  PK – Cole Starr (So.), P – Zach Johnson (Fr.), LS/SS – Jacob Munn (Sr.), Kick Return – Eric Thomas (Jr.), Punt Return – C.J. Pugh (Sr.)

Others to Watch: PK  – Rease Noble (Sr.), PK – Lou Wood (Jr.), PK – Bruno Ribiero (Fr.),  P – Kyle Hickman (So.), P -- Briceson Cook (So.), Snapper – Garrett Schluter (So.), Kick Return – Kobe Smith (Sr.), Punt Return – Cody Dwyer (Sr.)


A Closer Look: Huntingdon returns several key special teams performers with all-conference kick returner Eric Thomas, senior punt returner C.J. Pugh and senior snapper Jacob Munn. But the Hawks have to replace a three-year punter in Bryce Bump and the program's most decorated placekicker, Chase Young.

An All-Region selection as a senior, a four-time all-conference performer and the USA South Athletic Conference's career scoring leader, Young was a reliable scoring threat throughout his career.

Sophomore Cole Starr is the frontrunner to take over the placekicking duties and freshman Zach Johnson will enter the season as the No. 1 punter.


Turk on special teams: "We've had a lot of good competition at these positions during the preseason. We have some experience in the return game and at snapper but we're going to have new players at kicker and punter. These guys are working hard and I feel pretty good about where we are." 

Turk on filling holes at placekicker and punter: "We have to replace one of the best kickers we've ever had here in Chase Young. Chase was a very steady and solid guy and was an all-conference player all four years, so replacing him is a big deal. But we feel pretty good about sophomore Cole Starr. He has worked really hard and earned the job in the preseason.

"Freshman Zach Johnson will step in at punter. Zach has proven to be the most consistent and probably the most efficient in getting the ball off from the right place and locating it. He established himself pretty early in the preseason."

Turk on the return game: "Eric and C.J. were both return men for us last year. We didn't return a lot of punts last season, but we're going to be prepared and make sure we have a trustworthy player back there who will make good decisions. On kickoffs, Eric got better and better as the season progressed. That is a mindset, and he is a very aggressive guy when he gets the ball."