CLOSE AND RUN: Hun School quarterback Marco Lainez III plays in 2021. When Hun beat Mastery Charter 48-13 in the season opener last Saturday, the veteran star and Iowa State committed Leines on 8 of 10 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders will continue to win when they host the Royal Canadian Academy on September 10. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
Logan Howland may have caught his last pass last year unless the Huns School football team used a tackle-eligible game this fall.
With an eye toward the future, the Raider senior will spend his final year as an offensive tackle after playing tight end in his previous high school years.
“I think it’s inevitable,” Howland said. “When coach (Todd) Smith contacted me at Westfield during my junior year, he asked me if anyone was talking to me about playing the offensive line. He saw that college coaches would see me as new Typical skinny guy, they can turn that into an athletic offensive lineman. I think it’s only a matter of time before the season is over for me to be an offensive lineman. He told me it’s December or November and you’re going to the front line and that makes You get a lot of money in college and hope to get money in the NFL.”
Howland and Raider’s offensive line cleared the way last Saturday, and the defense was opportunistic as Hun beat Mastery Charter 48-13 on Opening Day. After the first quarter, the Huns took a 27-0 lead and won a decisive victory.
“It’s great to see a lot of guys on the field who didn’t get a lot of minutes last year,” said Howland, who will continue his football career at the University of Oklahoma next season. “We have to do a lot and hopefully next week we will be better.”
Hun will continue to win when they host the Royal Canadian Academy on September 10. The Raiders will be looking for a rebuilt offensive line to keep coming together while looking for ways to leverage a new group of talent at skill points.
“We have a lot of kids and there’s only one football to go to, but we’ll do our best to spread it out,” Huns coach Smith said. “Today we had a lot of guys contributing, which was exciting. That will continue to make us better and harder to defend over time.”
Iowa State submitted Marco Lainez III for 8 of 10 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, JT Goodman rushed for two touchdowns and Kamar Archie scored on a 60-yard run . Six different Raiders caught the ball, with Liam Thorpe and Logan Galetta receiving touchdowns.
Aidan Casuccio, Dante Barone and Kole Briehler each had a sack, while Owen Wafle had three tackles to lose. Goodman intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown, and Briller stopped Galetta’s recovering punt for a touchdown. Hun was able to experience how this year’s team came together.
“We have a good balance,” Smith said. “Our men are broken down so if we want to sit in the ‘me’ position we have some really good full-backs to help clear the way, but if we want to spread it out we can have some really good on the field Technical staff and attacking people that way. We’re going to be a difficult team to defend because you have a lot of different players to defend.”
Using every aspect of the game, Hun gave everyone some experience in the second half with a 48-0 halftime lead. The Raiders are still figuring out how to reach their full potential, but it’s great to see their team play against opponents.
“We have a lot of kids coming back,” Smith said. “We just have a lot of kids coming back to play in different positions. Even though we have a lot of supporters, there are also a lot of new faces in different positions. We’re fairly new to training and pre-season camp and we use that to make sure we hope we’re moving towards the same Going in one direction, hitting the right people, and lining up in the right way. From that perspective, we think it’s a good day.”
Howland and Illinois offense Zach Armland is the only returning starter on the offensive line, and both are at different positions. Aamland, a three-year starter, moved from guard to tackle, while Holland slid from tight end to tackle.
“It’s going well,” Howland said. “A lot of the young attacking forwards are definitely looking up to the older ones. We’re a small group, but we’re taking as much responsibility as we can. We show and coach the young as much as we can.”
Howland has been adjusting to his new role. After catching six passes last year as tight end, he’s helping prop up the new offensive line Smith is shaping.
“The first few months were definitely tough because I like to play tight end,” Howland said. “It’s an interesting position. But I think at the end of the day, it’s a position that I can be good at and be successful at. He’s made a lot of sense in turning tight end into offensive lineman and incorporating offensive linemen into the college football program. Succeed, they can succeed there.”
In deciding to play in college, Howland made a commitment in early July to the Swifts under new head coach Brent Venables. He reportedly chose Oklahoma over programs like Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan and Stanford.
“It’s definitely been a busy month in June, with a lot of visits, a lot of conversations with coaches, and they’re asking how my visit is going,” Howland said. “I love all my visits, especially Oklahoma State. They have a long history of being a successful team and winning. The return of coach Venables is definitely a big selling point, their offensive line coach (Bill) Bedenbaugh The same is true. He’s been doing this for a long time, and he’s one of the best, if not the best in his position.”
Oklahoma State likes what they see in Howland, who at 6-foot-7 and up to 280-290 pounds, wants to stay there until he goes to college. He had a few colleges telling him he could stay at tight end, but they mostly said his future was in tackles.
“It was a natural transition for a kid like him,” Smith said. “Everybody wants an offensive tackle to be an athlete, and that’s what he is.”
Howland played about 260 pounds of basketball for Hun last year, and college suitors love what he shows on the football field. That helped boost his recruiting stock.
“When I was playing basketball this season with one of my teammates, Irving Wavre, we had a couple of college coaches coming in who liked our athleticism, being able to move our feet and have good footwork,” Howland De said.
“I think that’s definitely a big selling point for me. As an offensive lineman, it’s about footwork and foot speed. Obviously that helps Irving, who’s a monster himself. I definitely think basketball helped. us.”
Howland gave up passing this year to focus on being a better blocker. He played three seasons at Westfield High School before repeating his junior year and transitioning to the Huns. He’s adjusting to the demands of his new position, trying to draw defenders with both hands and maintain proper form, rather than sprinting towards them and letting defenders bypass him.
“Blocking the run is pretty much the same,” Howland said. “It’s similar to tight end, except you block a bigger player and use the inside offensive line more. But pass interception is something I have to work on and improve. This is my first year really with our team. Playing against some of the best guys in the country and they help me get better every day. Pass interception is definitely the biggest part of my game that needs to improve.”
Hun’s offense should be more potent as the offensive line converges. Howland sees the team improving every day in training, and they won’t rest on just one uneven win with a lot of challenges ahead. The Raiders series has been working hard to connect with the series as a whole and now has a bigger role.
“Communication is absolutely key, being able to read defenders and get your assignments done, and being able to work out with coach Smith,” Howland said. “He knows what he’s doing, and his style of play is obviously very effective for us and has the running back for a lot of yards. We’re going to continue to do what we’re doing with Coach Smith.”
The Raiders are confident in their balanced offense. Howland may be happier as an offensive lineman this year, though, as he sees more runs that give them a chance to show what they’re capable of.
“You definitely get more aggressive in the running game, which is always great,” Howland said. “But at the end of the day, all we care about is winning, so whatever we can do — run, pass, five, 15 — as long as we get into the end zone, we’ll be happy with it. We won and we didn’t care how many games we played or what kind of games we played.”
Saturday was a good start in all respects, with Hun seeing the potential for another big season. The Raiders are trying to build on their 8-0 season in 2021, bringing in a slew of new players and a couple of returnees like Holland eager to prove they can be successful in their new roles.
“We did lose a lot of people last year, a lot of our leaders,” Howland said. “But a lot of seniors have come forward and we did bring in a lot of new guys and a lot of amazing talent, technical positions, offensive line, defensive line, so I think we’re ready to defend. We have A great top four, our linebacker looks great, the second linebacker locks everyone up. Then the offensive line does a great job, we obviously have a great quarterback and I think he’s going to be able to Facilitate our organizers and we’ll go from there.”