GLENDALE — Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the Glendale High football team will be what it's missing as it makes preparations for the 2013 season.
For the first time in three years, the Nitros will take the field without their playmaker Michael Davis, who's headed to Brigham Young University in the fall. The standout wide receiver/defensive back was one of 20 seniors that graduated from the team, meaning there's been lots of new faces at spring practices.
With so much of Glendale's offense leaning on Davis the past three years, second-year Nitros Coach John Tuttle is using the spring as a chance to evaluate what options he has in the newcomers.
"We are just trying to find guys to see what they can do best and see how they may fit in to how we call plays and stuff like that," Tuttle said of his spring goals.
Glendale picked up one more win in Tuttle's first campaign than it did in 2011, as it posted a 3-7, 2-5 in Pacific League record for sixth place. Tuttle's goal is for his team to become more consistent each week, as the Nitros eye their first playoff appearance since 2003.
In order to do so, it'll take a complete team effort to replace Davis' production on both sides of the ball. Davis; who handled kickoff and punt returns, accounted for 727 scrimmage yards and six total touchdowns, was one of two Nitros to be named an All-Pacific League first-teamer in 2012.
Glendale's Martin Marin, the other first-team pick and incoming senior, is part of the collective effort the Nitros are looking to replace the production of Davis.
"Last year's offense was practically run on Michael and since he's gone we have new receivers stepping up and that's what we need," said Marin, who had 17 receptions for 265 yards and three scores and also played defensive back and punter. "We have new starting receivers and we have to try to get better, faster and put more points up."
While there's a number of new faces at Glendale's spring practices, the Nitros also have a 30-player senior class there to help bring the underclassmen along.
"I feel like people are getting the hang of being with us because we have a lot of young guys coming up," said returning Glendale quarterback Kevin Felix, a senior. "All the older guys are stepping up and being leaders.
"Right now, we're just working on learning the plays. We start from the bottom and we work our way up and start learning as a team."
Like most spring regiments, Tuttle also has his team in a conditioning program to get it in shape for the run-first offense he began implementing last season.
"It's a little easier because the kids know the coaches, it's the second year hearing the plays and stuff like that," Tuttle said. "It makes a bit of a difference because everything isn't brand new to them. They're getting to know how the coaches work and we're learning more about what the players can do."
While there's a number of changes the Nitros are braving in spring, they're welcomed ones.
"It feels like 11 men are actually playing football, just 11 guys going out there, giving all they got and playing as one, instead of playing as individuals," Felix said, "that's really what we've been working on."