New-look Storm compete in NC
NEW CANAAN—While 7-on-7 tournaments aren’t exactly the ideal time for a mostly Wing-T based offense like St. Luke’s to show off its skill, the Storm still found ways to improve last week in the 11th annual Grip It and Rip It tournament at New Canaan High School.
“We’ll probably run 30% spread, 70% Wing-T depending on the situation,” Storm coach Noel Thomas said. “It’s a nice switch, but our bread and butter is Wing-T.”
The biggest takeaway for Luke’s at the event is that while the name remains the same under center, rising-senior Michael Hage looks like a whole different quarterback in 2018.
“He’s much improved,” Thomas said. “He’s really matured, he’s a captain and he’s been getting a lot of work going to college camps, doing the 7-on-7 circuit. He’s been around some top-level athletes, so he’s got a great barometer of what it’s like to play at a high level in the country. With those experiences, he’s brought back a maturity, so I can lean on him. He called some of his own plays today and he’s a different type of guy. I expect a big year from him.”
Hage said 7-on-7s are nothing new to him, and although the Storm won’t spend a ton of time throwing the ball, he uses the sessions to better familiarize himself with is receiving corps.
“It gets timing with receivers down,” Hage said. “It gets us chemistry because we have some new guys, some returners and some that were injured last year coming back. It’s good to get that chemistry going and when you have the timing down it’s much easier.”
like Thomas, Hage thinks the one of the biggest developments in the offseason is that confidence level.
“I’m a lot more confident,” Hage said. “I’ve been working all offseason on a lot of mechanics, I had a lot of mechanical issues so I worked a lot with my quarterback coach and I’m a lot more confident in reading defenses and finding where to get the ball.”
On the other side of the ball, the St. Luke’s secondary got a taste of some explosive offenses they wouldn’t normally face in FAA play.
Having to brave the heat for two days while facing elite talent from around the state and beyond can be difficult for the defenses, but will pay off once the regular season rolls around.
“It’s a lot of work,” St. Luke’s cornerback Juan Rosario said. “You get drained, but for me I just try to work on having that strong football mentality, being determined and putting in the effort for my brothers out there.”
Thomas has shown in the past the ability and desire to get players to the next level, and Rosario is just one of more intriguing projects.
At 6-feet-tall and with a vertical of 35 inches Rosario profiles as a Division I-AA type talent. He also has the grades to play at an Ivy League school if he so chooses, and it wouldn’t surprise Thomas if he makes enough of an impact to land at a I-A school.
“I’m looking forward to getting an offer this year,” said Rosario, who’s being courted by Holy Cross and Bryant, among others. “And also getting a championship this year as well.”
Getting enough players to come out is a challenge for every coach at the private school level, and while St. Luke’s isn’t exactly at the level of the larger public schools in terms of bodies, Thomas is happier this year than he has been in years past.
“We actually have some young backups who are chomping at the bit,” Thomas said. “This year our roster is around 37, which is a little bit more than what we had last year. I would love to see us at the 40-45 range so I can really be comfortable, but it’s a work in progress.”