|Caba’s Tribe will have new look for upcoming football season
By Dan Manley
Advocate Sports Editor
New season, new coach, new turf, new look.
Don’t expect to see much in the way of status quo for the 2022 football season for the Montgomery County Indians.
New coach Michael Caba comes from a collegiate coaching background, but he’s not trying to run a college program.
Expect the changes from 2021 to be subtle, and at the same time, obvious.
“We have 50 minutes of offense, 50 minutes of defense and 20 minutes of special teams in our practices,” Caba explained.
And in those 50 minutes of defense, the guys who are starters on offense aren’t taking a water break. They’re playing a defensive position. Everybody on the squad has an offensive and a defensive position, whether they ever play on that side of the football or not. They should be ready.
There’s certainly nothing college about that.
On offense, senior quarterback Alex Hatton will have a run/pass option on almost every play. He’ll read the defense based on the play call and decide what’s going to happen.
On defense, the basic scheme is a three-man odd front, but you can’t expect that all the time. The Tribe will have even fronts in the mix as well.
“The odd front gives you a better chance of confusing the offense and that’s a great weapon,” Caba explained.
The coach may be operating as the leader of a high school program for the first time but having been a coordinator on both offense and defense at the college level, he’s got that dual perspective to bring to the game.
And during the games this season, Caba will be the general, with offensive and defensive coordinators running the play by play action and Caba taking a big picture approach and he explains, he’ll have the opportunity to go to individual players and instruct them on what’s going on and what’s to do.
Montgomery County squared off against Fleming County last Friday night at Cunningham Field in a controlled scrimmage that did end up with some 11 on 11 action.
“We’ve certainly got some playmakers on offense,” Caba said. “We’ve still got to get our timing down but that will come around and I’m very excited about what we’re going to be able to do on offense.
“Alex (Hatton) has a big arm, so we’re going to be working on some other parts of his game, primarily trying to make his footwork better,” the coach said. “I think he’ll really benefit from being in a run-pass option offense where he’s going to have choices to make on almost every play.”
There’s no question that Hatton has the receivers to throw to.
Senior Devin Taul “still has some big improvements to make,” according to Caba, but has the tools to be a special receiver. He has size and can run away from defenders.
Along with him are junior Tanner Donathan and sophomore Harrison Haddix. Donathan is a great deep threat while Haddix is “a kid who’s going to run the right route, be in the right place and catch the football” according to his coach.
In the backfield, senior Jacob Diallo has caught the eye of Caba.
“He’s going to get to the hole and get you five, 10 or 15 yards,” Caba said.
Senior Corey Barber is a key on defense but Caba also sees him as giving the Indians a threat in the backfield, too, as a speedster who can take it all the way any time he touches the football.
Rex Martin is a power back, a 6’0, 224-pound junior who can offer tough yards inside, good pass protection and can also catch the football.
Junior Cooper Gross, a projected starter on defense, can also get some touches on offense.
The offensive line will be built around players like Ian Laredo (5’10”, 210, SR), Colby Lee (6’, 262, SR) and Jude Gibson (6’, 255, SR).
“We’ve got 34 or 35 linemen to work with and we should be able to build quite a bit of depth at those positions,” Caba said.
CABA on Conditioning
Caba says he’s not a big believer in conditioning at the end of practice.
“We try to keep everyone moving during practice as much as possible and by doing that our players are going to be in shape,” he said.
As for the weight room, Caba says it’s all about making the guys better football players and seemed pleased with the work the players had done leading up to the beginning of the regular practice season.
the kicking game
The Indians will have a new placekicker this season and he’s a member of the MCHS soccer team.
Ben Thomerson, a junior, will be handling those chores and he’s done enough to impress his coach.
“We first saw him when they had a kicking contest during the spring game and I think he kicked a 45-yard field goal,” Caba recalled.
Someone suggested that he should give it a try this fall and he and the coach talked and now he’s apart of the team.
Since the soccer team does not play on Friday night, Thomerson, a starting defensive midfielder, can play both sports.
“We just need him for certain portions of practice,” Caba noted.
Senior Braxton Willoughby is the long and short snapper for the Indians and the coach’s son, freshman Jaimen Caba is likely the holder.
“I think he’ll win us some games this season,” Caba said flatly. “He’s got a really strong leg, we’ve just got to a different game, but I think he’ll be outstanding.”
How good is Hatton
Michael Caba was quite a quarterback when he came through high school at Magoffin County, leading the Hornets to a couple of their most successful seasons ever.
At Georgetown College he played alongside an outstanding quarterback Eddie Eviston.
So what does he think of Hatton?
“He’s definitely got the ability to play at the next level,” Caba said. “It’s all about him working to continue to improve and us putting together some good film for him for college coaches to look at. That’s a big part of the recruiting process today.”
Hatton is also the Indians’ punter, a fact that Caba primarily thinks is a big plus.
“Again, it gives you plenty of options when your quarterback is your punter and we’ll try to take advantage of that,” he said.