Last year was a season of transition for the Glendale High football program in the first year under a new head coach. Additionally, the feeling of a lack of complete cohesion between the senior and junior classes was an undertone as the Nitros finished with three wins in 10 tries.
The Glendale squad is determined to be a cohesive group this season, and any gap between the classes, real or perceived, will not be an issue if senior Richard “Rico” Vorobyev has anything to say about it.
“We’re trying to make everyone get on the same page this year,” Vorobyev, a lineman listed at 5-foot-9, 250 pounds, said. “All the seniors are trying to step up. The leaders are trying to do their job and make everyone be pumped and ready for the season.”
Second-year coach John Tuttle has noted Vorobyev’s work ethic and energy.
“Hard-working kid, great attitude, cares about his teammates and the program, good leader,” Tuttle said of Vorobyev. “He’s just the kind of kid every coach wants on his team.”
Vorobyev is in his final season at Glendale, but just his second in a Nitros jersey. The senior, who has a Russian last name but is Armenian by lineage, had moved away for his seventh- through ninth-grade years before returning to Glendale for his sophomore year, but not early enough in the semester for joining the football team to make sense.
Vorobyev was on the field from the start of the action in his junior year, playing mainly on the offensive line. This year he’ll play on both the offensive and defensive lines.
“[Vorobyev] has been taking care of his body. He’s in much better shape [this season],” Tuttle said. “He worked really hard in the weight room and working on his own. ... His hard work has paid off.”
Coach Tuttle and Vorobyev have in common the fact that both will be entering their second year of Glendale football.
“Maybe it was a little slow last year,” Vorobyev said, “but now even the bond with coaches is way different. Everyone understands everyone. It’s like a whole new team.”
Last year, Nitros running back/linebacker Daniel Jung made significant contributions as a sophomore on both sides of the ball and will surely be a key offensive weapon this season, especially with the departure of talented receiver Michael Davis to BYU.
“Summer, you know, is real hard and we just got closer as a team in that time,” Jung, who is Glendale’s top returning rusher, said. “Right now we’re just trying to get better as a team and I just hope it all pays off and we’re going to win games.”
Jung promises to see a lot of Vorobyev, often lining up behind him in both of his roles as a running back and linebacker.
“I’ve just got to say one thing about Rico, he is the hardest worker in Glendale and just watch out for him on the field,” Jung said. “He is one of the leaders on this team. If someone does something wrong, he just snaps at them and tells them what is right. He tells them what to do.”
This season will probably not be best judged by wins and losses for the Nitros, but by the improvements made and the camaraderie created by a group working together to be their best.
“The seniors have stepped up and they’ve done a good job working hard,” Tuttle said, “and the juniors have come in and everyone is working really well together. It’s a nice little team.”
Glendale will play seven of its 10 games in the friendly confines of Moyse Field, including a four-game home stand to start off, so anything is possible.
“[Last season] was like a new vision for everyone and now, since we have a lot of juniors that went up to seniors, we’re real close as a team. It’s like a brotherhood,” Vorobyev said. “Everyone plays together. If one person messes up, we understand that we need to fix that because this isn’t basketball. ... If one person messes up of the 11 men on the field the whole play is done, so we are more like a unit this year. Honestly, everyone’s on the same page. Everyone understands that now and it’s way better.”