Flynn’s first team has potential to be very good
Seventeen years ago, a teenager was completing a pretty stellar high school career as an above-average quarterback.
He got comfortable at the position his junior year when he threw for 929 yards and a dozen touchdowns, coming back his senior year with 13 touchdown passes and 1,433 yards.
They were loud-enough stats that a Division I school way up in Iowa got wind of Austin Flynn’s abilities. Iowa State University never looked back from that day it signed the Deer signal-caller.
Despite a position change his senior year, moving to receiver, Flynn was a devoted, passionate and dedicated athlete to the Cyclones cause.
Now fast-forward 17 years and Flynn, after a stint as an assistant coach at Grand View College, has returned to his roots where he’s been on the prowl for a new generation of devoted, passionate and dedicated athletes now that he’s Deer Park’s first new head coach in well over a decade.
“As we speak right now, we’re 0-0, we’re practicing hard, the effort is there and that’s all I can expect. There’s a lot of new things that we went over in the spring. They’re receptive of it. I’m proud of the way they’ve responded,” said Flynn, 34.
In terms of attitude adjustment, there’s been no need for one. The Deer are fresh from winning the District 22-6A crown, the latest conquest to a long list of district conquests.
Now Flynn needs to plant the seeds to get the program to a higher standard. In this football-crazy state, it will be a difficult challenge, but with his background and the education that’s come from playing and coaching at the collegiate level, he’ll have the knowledge to get the Deer there.
Defensively, look for the Deer to play a 4-2-5 alignment.
“When I first got here, I wanted to be multiple up front but at the same time not confuse our kids. You’ve got to adapt to your kids, especially defensively,” Flynn said.
Graduation claimed five First Team all-district recipients, including MVP Race Moser.
They do return unanimous first-teamers Cristian Gonzalez at linebacker and first-teamer Luke Schaper for his skills at punt returner. However, Schaper, who returned punts for touchdowns in back-to-back weeks last fall, suffered an injury during track season that kept him out of spring drills.
The defensive captains will be inside linebacker Robert Boner and cornerback Trey Cole.
“We’re extremely deep at defensive line. Probably our deepest is at defensive line. We’re probably six deep in the middle. In my opinion, you better be pretty deep at defensive line.
The likely linemen who could be starting in the season opener are returners Kaleb Etheridge and Rodney Howard along with Raul Gutierrez, Zane Reid and Blayton Merryman. Tyler Davidson and Darren Kramer are also in the mix.
Schaper will play safety along with Jackson Richie and Kaleb Huerta.
In addition to Boner and Gonzalez at linebacker, Anthony Solano will patrol at linebacker in the 4-2-5 scheme. Flynn describes Solano as “explosive.”
The vacancy sign is out for the punter’s position, and Flynn said that’s a concern he hopes can be ironed out after workouts this month and the scrimmage game.
Deer Park ranked No.1 in 22-6A last year, yielding only 225 yards. But with the likes of North Shore and Co., the Deer will be hard-pressed to match that. But it won’t mean the team isn’t a better defensive unit, but rather that it is in a tougher neighborhood.
Offensively, things appear calmer. With First Team all-district quarterback Broc Weidner back and four other all-district returners, the nucleus is there for a team that will be difficult to contain.
“It’s good to have a quarterback that’s got that experience. Obviously, he’s got to learn as much if not more than anybody else with the new scheme, but at least we know what he can do when the lights are on.
Because he was a quarterback, Flynn believes that will help tremendously with his relationship with Weidner.
“I think that’s an advantage for me, but I’ve got to take advantage of that opportunity. Maybe the trust factor is a little more because you’ve done this,” Flynn said.
Caleb Spencer will also play quarterback when needed.
Tyrek Saylor, a Second Team selection, returns at tailback. He rushed for 828 yards and a dozen TDs as a junior. This year, he’ll be one of the offensive captains.
The tight end is Dylan Heim and the wide receivers will be Tylan Love, the speedy Marcus Molina, Michael Banda and Jonathan Groover. Clyde Bellow and Marcus Moreno could be others.
The trio of Heim, Love, Molina and Banda combined for 39 receptions last year; so Weidner has a bunch of familiar faces to throw to in 2018. Heim and Love already have all-district credentials in their back pocket.
In the line, Cole Phillips, Leon Rihm, Jake Miller are liked on the left side while Miller will play center. There’s a lot of competition for positions on the right side. Look for Julian Sanchez, Brendon Wylie, Romello Brown and Christian Duenes to go after those slots.
On paper, Deer Park appears poised to compete with the best in their new district. Now they just have to show their colors and put it together for their new coach and Deer graduate.