Calvert Hall coach Donald Davis said his team has been taking baby steps as they prepare for the 2013 football season.
But, on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 1 p.m., the Cardinals will take a giant leap when they open up the regular season at St. John’s, DC.
“That first game is the first big step of the season and we are hoping to get off on the right foot,” Davis said.
The Cards take on the fellow Christian Brothers school in a rivalry that began in 1924 with a 26-0 Calvert Hall triumph.
Calvert Hall is 14-23-2 in the series, but they have won the past three meetings, including a 21-17 victory last year.
“I was instructed to make certain we schedule St. John’s as often as we can,” said Davis, who is in his seventh season as head coach.
Calvert Hall dropped the first three meetings to St. John’s during Davis’ tenure.
Beyond the opener, the Cardinals are hoping to get over the hump and win a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.
In the past three seasons, the Cards have lost only six games, including four to Gilman and one each to Dematha and Georgetown Prep.
Last year, the 9-3 Cardinals lost twice to Gilman.
“We have a bunch of kids with a chip on their shoulders,” Davis said. “We have jayvee kids that lost the championship game to Gilman and varsity kids that lost the championship game to Gilman. It’s a group that went all the way and got denied at the end.”
One of the veterans back in the fold is senior quarterback Colar Kuhns (6-feet, 2 inches, 205 pounds). He is drawing college interest from Bucknell, Cornell, Yale and Eastern Kentucky.
He’ll work with a senior backfield that includes former receiver Russell Neverdon (5-7, 175), senior Nick Smith (5-7, 175) and Kevin Nickel (6-1, 205).
They’ll follow the blocks of junior left tackle Marcellus Harrison (6-0, 270), junior left guard Drew Devanney (6-1, 235), senior center Nick Auvil (6-3, 265), junior right guard Nick Tirabassi (5-11, 230), freshman right guard Malik Montague (6-1, 305) and senior third-year varsity tackle Trevor Beam (6-3, 280).
Erik Evans (6-4, 230), who will play lacrosse at Ohio State University next year, returns as an All-Conference tight end.
Juniors Lawrence Cager (6-5, 200) and Shane Nelson (6-2, 175) and sophomore Morgan Scroggins (6-1, 180) headline the receiving corps.
Senior Spencer Tuveson (6-3, 265) is the top returning defensive lineman and he’ll play anywhere on the line.
Senior Mason Phoenix (6-4, 230) also returns to the defensive line, where he will be joined by junior Ramel Little (6-1, 320).
Sophomore Rahshaun Smith (6-3, 235) may be the most talented linebacker and he has already received 16 Division I college scholarship offers.
He’ll be on the outside along with Nickel, while junior Jaire Dorsey (5-11, 180) and senior Stephen Grebeleski (6-0, 215) man the middle.
Sophomore Troy Hollis (6-foot, 200) and speedy junior Marcus Hicks (5-10, 190) add linebacking depth.
Junior Dionte Austin (6-1, 165) ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at a summer camp and he’ll bring his speed to the defensive backfield along with juniors Juantez McRae (6-1, 180) and Micah Keels (6-3, 185).
Running back Nick Smith joins the defensive backfield.
Kicker Jake Soriano (6-1, 170) was a valuable weapon last season after forcing 19 touchbacks on kickoffs.
“He’s a great kicker,” said Davis, who also singled out special teams captain and long snapper Cole Wernecke (6-0, 165). “He (Wernecke) is like having another coach on the field.”
Davis praised his team’s work ethic and camaraderie on and off the field.
“If nothing else, they have been an awesome group to work with and their personalities mesh,” he said. “They work hard and have great attitudes.”