The Harley-Hampton twins were a special attraction last season in Flossmoor. Both Deante and Devonte were a threat to break lose and score every time they touched the ball. The twins have moved on, but the majority of offensive linemen that sprung them free are back for No. 4 Homewood-Flossmoor.
Two college-bound seniors, John Michael Schmitz (Western Michigan) and Jamezz Kimbrough (Central Michigan), lead the Hit Squad.
“[The offensive line] has been calling ourselves the Hit Squad since my sophomore year,” Kimbrough said. “We’re the biggest people on the field and that’s what we do every play — hit people.”
Junior Justin Hall, senior Tyler Nutall and senior Herbert Hughes (transfer from Stagg) will run the ball this season.
“We have some talented backs, Kimbrough said. “A lot of people don’t know it yet, but they will see in Week 1 against Downers South.”
Hall played defensive back last season. He led the team in tackles even though it was his first season playing defense.
“We have about four or five guys that can play on both sides of the ball and he’s one of them,” Vikings coach Craig Buzea said. “We’ve made him a free safety so he can get even more involved but he’s also dynamic with the ball in his hands.”
It isn’t just the twins that need to be replaced. Wide receiver Kendric Pryor, now at Wisconsin, was one of the state’s most dynamic players. Expect Homewood-Flossmoor to be just fine at receiver. Senior Ty Richie is getting plenty of attention from Division I schools and senior Tyler DeMartra is an impressive athlete.
“[Richie] is awesome,” Buzea said. “He obviously got overshadowed by [Pryor] last year but I think he took a lot of the pressure off Pryor once people saw his ability. He’s got the ability to be a dominant athlete on the outside. DeMartra gives us a lot of size, 6-3, that can really jump on the other side. That should allow us to spread defenses out and give us some room to do things.”
Senior Bryant Wright takes over at quarterback and junior Kellyn Gerenstein should see some playing time there as well.
“[Quarterback] is the question mark just because we had a constant there for two years. But I don’t think the success or lack of success of this team is going to be because of the quarterback. Bryant was our backup last year but he really didn’t get any quality snaps. He’s progressed all year long, all summer. It’s just a matter of going against live bullets.”
Linebacker Montreal Blade and defensive end Dylan Smith lead the defense, which is facing the same talent surplus but experience deficit as the offense. This is Buzea’s sixth season in charge. He’s turned the program into a dominant force in the South suburbs.
“You get your program to where you think it just perpetuates year after year,” Buzea said. “We think that’s where we are at. They know the expectations, they know how we practice. They just have not been exposed to a Friday night setting yet.”
Aug. 26: vs. Downers Grove South, 7:30
Sep. 2: vs. Hammond, Ind., 8
Sep. 9: at Lincoln-Way East, 7:30
Sep. 16: at Lockport, 7:30
Sep. 23: vs. Lincoln-Way West, 7:30
Sep. 30: vs. Sandburg, 7:30
Oct. 7: vs. Thornridge, 7:30
Oct. 14: at Thornton, 7:30
Oct. 21: vs. Bolingbrook, 7:30