Fountain-Fort Carson football coach Jake Novotny gathered his team in the center of the field Tuesday after practice.
“We’ve had 365 days to get back at these guys,” Novotny said. “Let’s go get them this week.”
A year ago F-FC fell to Legend 10-7 in what Novotny called a “defining moment” for the 2017 Trojans. But now, with a different team, a different mindset and a different atmosphere, Fountain-Fort Carson will welcome the Titans in a 5A South opener for the Gazette Preps Game of the Week.
“We went up there after a tough loss, we were ranked, they were ranked, and we just didn’t play our best football,” Novotny said. “They got us. And for us this year it’s something we’ve had circled as a must win. And now that we’re heading into league they’re all must wins.”
But the 2018 Trojans look a lot different than last season’s squad with a new quarterback, new star running back and a new attitude, according to Novotny.
“We started developing this team in January in the weight room and the whole mentality is different this year,” Novotny said. “They play for each other, they play for the mission that we talk about daily, and they do the things we ask them to do. And that’s not anything the kids the year before weren’t doing but they are completely bought in this year and you can see that.”
Last week the Trojans saw a breakout performance from sophomore running back Alexisius "Q" Jones who ran for 340 yards and four touchdowns, while new starting quarterback Isaac Robinson is also helping the Trojans put forward a more balanced attack from years before.
“Isaac has done a great job for us. He has kind of been two years in the making for us and it has been really hard not to play him early,” Novotny said, explaining that Robinson developed through the freshman and JV program before making his first varsity start this year. “He’s done a great job and has passed the ball pretty effectively for us, which opens up the run game for Q Jones and for some of those other guys.”
On the defensive side, Fountain-Fort Carson has implemented some changes after its three losses, each to top-six ranked 5A teams.
“Playing those top schools helps you figure out where you need to go,” Novotny said. “I’m proud of my staff because we have learned from those losses and put some things together in practice that has helped us fixed those kinds of problems.”
This week the Trojans will face Legend running back Blake Rarog, who has 492 yards and six touchdowns on the season. Sophomore quarterback Kalen Shoemaker has thrown for 531 yards and a .632 completion percentage. His top target is Trustin Oliver who has 318 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
“The biggest thing this week is making sure we are gap sound and making sure we are getting some help from the secondary and run support,” Novotny said. “We’ve simplified some things on the defensive side of the ball to be able to do that.”
The Trojans hold a slight edge over Legend heading into Friday’s game. They’re coming off a 40-point win over Overland last week and they have the added bonus of playing in front of a homecoming crowd.
“We’re not playing for just us this week. We are playing for alumni and our community and nothing hurts worse than getting a loss on homecoming,” Novotny said. “And last week was Overland’s homecoming and we talked about spoiling that — we don’t want that to happen to us this week.”
TITANS-TROJANS AT A GLANCE
Game data: No. 21 Legend Titans (3-2) at No. 15 Fountain-Fort Carson Trojans (2-3) … Friday at Fountain-Fort Carson High School.
Media: Follow @LindseySquints and @HughJohnson707 on Twitter for live updates from the game. Check back with GazettePreps.com for photos, highlights and more exclusive content.
Teams: Last year these teams battled in a 10-7 victory for the Titans in what Fountain-Fort Carson coach Jake Novotny called a “turning point” for the 2017 season.
Now the Trojans have had a year to think about that three-point loss, and this time host Legend on homecoming as they open 5A South play.
The Titans are led by junior running back Blake Rarog, who has 492 yards and six touchdowns on the season. Sophomore quarterback Kalen Shoemaker has thrown for 531 yards and a .632 completion percentage. His top target is Trustin Oliver, who has 318 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Last week in a 42-21 loss to Castle View, Legend’s Cameron Smith pulled down a staggering 21 total tackles, including 13 solo. He’s second on the team behind James Lemons who has 48 tackles to Smith’s 41.
Fountain-Fort Carson enters the first week of league play fresh off a big 40-point win over Overland thanks in part to a breakout performance from sophomore running back Alexisius "Q" Jones. Jones ran for 340 yards and four touchdowns a week after being limited to 25 rushing yards against Grandview.
The Trojans also have a new face under center in junior Isaac Robinson, who has thrown for 816 yards and six touchdowns. He is also second on the team in rushing yards with 76. Gregory Horton is his top receiver with 239 yards, followed by Noah Gerber (191) and Jones (109).