|Coach Kraig Broach (red shirt) and the Heritage Patriots are ready to jump into the 2014 season.|
But of course coaches always want to move on. You're only as good as your last game -- and the Patriots' last game soon will become Friday night's 7 p.m. season opener at La Quinta. So it's time to get focused, coach Kraig Broach says.
"Our end of year banquet didn't take place until February because we had to wait for the rings," Broach said. "Once that happened, we flipped the switch to next year.
"I'm pleased with how the kids have conducted themselves. They're happy about last year, but they're focused on this year."
A 13-1 record and CIF Central Division title will be hard to forget, but the Patriots have enough returning talent to once again be a power in the Sunbelt League. Even though talented two-way threats Limihai Hifo and Sione Takitaki have graduated -- along with other top players, including Matt Palmer and Evan Rodriguez -- the talent is there.
Quarterback Brett Virgil (5-11, 175) returns for his junior season after capably leading the offense last year. Virgil (right) passed for 1,284 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2013, displaying good instincts and decision-making. With a year under his belt, Virgil should be even better this year.
"Brett has developed quickly, and he has the potential to be very special," Broach said. "His work ethic and knowledge have improved to the point that we can trust him with more things in running the offense."
Also returning is running back Isaiah Morrow (5-10, 180), whose older brother Jamaal starred for the Patriots two years ago and is now starting for Washington State. Isaiah Morrow (center in photo below) rushed for 713 yards and 6 touchdowns while sharing the work load with three other backs.
Another key returning player is senior linebacker Reggie Murphy, who uses his 6-5, 230-pound frame to his advantage against opponents. He has committed to San Diego State.
Christian Decker-Wieble will help solidify the Patriot offense from his linebacker position. So will cornerback Brandon Barker, whom Broach said "really came on the scene" last year. Tight end and defensive end Axel Uveakovi (6-2, 270) and center Bailey Martindale will also play key roles.
"We'll never be a spread, throw 90 times a game type of team," Broach said. "The percentage changes each year for us. We're just putting last year in the history books and focusing on having a great year for the seniors."
Heritage's home opener will take place on Friday, Sept. 5 against JW North.