By ALLEN COLLINS
HULBERT — The Hulbert Riders football team is going through a few changes this year. Under new starting quarterback Brandon Thompson, Hulbert looks to run an up-tempo offense.
There is pressure on Thompson to deliver as Hulbert goes into its second year in class 2A after reclassifying from class A in 2011. Thompson said he placed a lot of importance on Hulbert’s summer and in-season conditioning programs to get in better shape to play the quarterback position. Thompson also plays strong side outside linebacker and punter and was the District 2A-8 Linebacker of the Year in 2012. Being the starting quarterback won't change Thompson's other duties in the different phases of the game earlier on.
Gary Riley — in his first season as the Riders’ new head coach — stated that the coaching staff is developing other players at quarterback and linebacker in order to give Brandon a rest when needed.
According to Thompson, though, he may not need too many breaks. As a two-way player who also plays a key role on special teams, Thompson labels all of his duties as “Ironman football.”
Hulbert’s signal caller sees himself as a football player and will do whatever the team needs him to do to secure a win. He sees fighting through the fatigue as an inevitable hurdle the team will face this year.
The newly appointed starter excitingly voiced his eagerness to compete in 2A and looks forward to meeting the Hulbert Riders' toughest district opponents head on. Thompson said he also looks forward to matchups against rival Salina, Kansas and Commerce.
Thompson said he feels that this year's team can reach the playoffs and added that his goal is to ultimately go to and win the state championship.
Riley identified Thompson’s role as the backup quarterback as a huge asset going into the 2013 season. Riley said he’s also pleased with Thompson’s familiarity with the offense and his leadership abilities.
"Brandon is a very even-keel kid,” Riley said, “and leads by example and he really has the respect of the team.”
Adding a veteran offensive line in front of Thompson has also given Riley confidence in the offense, which will utilize a quick pace based on Thompson’s running ability and quick intelligence.
Despite a tough district slate ahead, Riley said he believes Hulbert can challenge for a playoff spot in 2A-8. He also added that the Riders have a chance to win every time they step on the field.
Hulbert is certainly in transition with a new coach, new quarterback, new offensive approach, and its second year in class 2A.