By Dave Wagner
FLOYD — Floyd six-man football coach Jeff Gillespie says the Broncos have experience coming back this season — just not “experience experience.”
What the team’s third-year coach means is that several players are back who have played varsity football in the past, but not necesarily started.
“I’m pleased with what we’ve done so far (in the preseason),” Gillespie said. “But we’re still young, and we’ve got a lot to learn.”
Floyd, which went 6-4 last season and lost in the first round of the six-man playoffs, returns two players who were starters on both sides of the ball in junior running back-safety Jerrod Long and senior running back-linebacker Manny Carrillo. Both will have to play well for the Broncos to be successful.
“Those are our two vocal leaders,” Gillespie underscored.
After that, it’s a question of how quickly people come along.
“A lot of other guys will have to step up,” Gillespie said. “They’ve got to mature fast.”
Long has big-play ability and will probably be the focal point of most opposing defenses. “We’ve got to keep him healthy, no doubt about that,” Gillespie said.
From his perspective, Long thinks the Broncos should do well. Floyd should be able to measure itself by how it fares against district rival Melrose, the defending six-man runnerup and the favorite to win it this year, according to both player and coach.
“I have no doubt we’ll get to the playoffs,” Long said. “The team to beat for us is Melrose; they really didn’t lose anybody (from) last year, and we lost a bunch.”
Added Gillespie: “Melrose is the team to beat in six-man football. (Carlos) Ruiz has the same ability as the (Fide) Davalos kid that was here (several years ago). But they’ve got other players that are capable.
“I think they’ll be the favorites the next two years to win six-man.”
Among others Gillespie is counting on are junior wide receiver-defensive back Brad Lee and brothers Bryan and Erickson Johnson, both seniors who are out for football for the first time.
Bryan Johnson will play quarterback in Floyd’s tight set on offense, Gillespie said, and wide receiver when the Broncos go to a spread formation.
“They decided to come out and give it a shot,” he said. “B.J.’s learning a lot, especially playing quarterback.”
Also helping is the fact that the Broncos have five of their eight games on their home field. Last year, the only two home games for Floyd were played at Portales Junior High because its own field was deemed unplayable in August.
Long said he’s looking forward to fewer bus trips.
“It’s harder to get motivated riding on a bus for an hour or two,” he said.
Gillespie said almost all of the 11 players on the varsity squad will be counted on to contribute in some capacity.
“The key to success this year will be lack of injuries,” he said. “If we’re going to be successful, we’ve got to stay healthy.”