Tragic summer leaves uncertainty for 2019
The Trojans and their new coach Demetrius Cox face this season still healing from a tragedy that shook the team and the community.
Coach Cox’s son, Demarius, passed away while at Sky Ranch Horn Creek summer church camp in Colorado from what was thought to be a blood clot in his lung.
The sophomore to be was expected to play a huge role on the team during his father’s first year.
Despite the heartbreak, Demetrius isn’t backing down from the daunting task of uniting a team while grieving and remembering his son.
“I’m in a good place right now, I’ve got good people around me,” he said. “This will help me clear my mind, but how well we coaches can handle the adversity is going to be the key.
“It’s not going to go away, we’re always going to see him (Demarius) out there, and we’ve got to do what we can to honor his memory.”
Former coach Devin Metzinger guided the Trojans to a 7-3 record, Hillsboro’s best finish since 2013, before tumbling to perennial power Pittsburg-Colgan in the second round of the 2018 Class 1A playoff.
The Trojans lost quarterback Jorge Hanschu, workhorse running back-linebacker Brooks Gardner, wideout Darian Ratzlaff, and linemen Wes Shaw and Lane Flaming, to graduation.
Wideout Caleb Potucek, one-third of the Trojans’ three-headed offensive monster of a year ago, returns for his final season, which is great news for the team.
Potucek is the most experienced big play man Hillsboro has.
The team’s outscoring opponents 417-210 this past year allowed Metzinger to get the underclassmen some much needed experience.
That allowed Caleb’s brother, now sophomore Matt, and Jamari Harris, to serve opponents’ notice of their potential for three more years.
Matt brings the same things his brother does to the table, and may possibly shift to quarterback after seeing time at receiver and in the secondary.
Freshman Nick Smith may be vying for the spot, also.
Harris spearheads a young backfield that will have to adjust quickly to varsity action.
The interior lines saw many players graduate and three-fifths of the offensive line must be replaced as well.
Luckily, junior Austin Rempel and sophomore Tristan Rathbone gained plenty of experience a year ago and should anchor what will again be a smaller line.
Expect 6-foot-6 240-pound sophomore Jared Janzen to fit in there also as Hillsboro’s biggest player.
The receiving corps is where the Trojans are deepest, but there’s not a ton of experience with senior Hunter Hein joining Caleb.
Look for the sophomore trio Frank Wichert, Jaxxon Hanschu, and Cole Kaufman to supply Matt with options to throw, too, also.
“We’ve got the talent and the pieces are there, I like what I’ve seen so far,” Cox said. “It’s just going to be a matter of where we can plug everybody in at.”
The Trojans open the season Sept. 6 hosting a graduation-depleted Hesston Swather team.