Kingman’s football team faced upheaval even before the season started, when quarterback Justin Harbert suffered a shoulder injury during the final contact camp of the summer in mid-July.
“It kind of turned us upside down.… We went from a junior quarterback, who had a bunch of reps on (junior varsity) and all our reps in summer camp, to a sophomore who really was kind of thrust into the position and wasn’t really ready,” Kingman coach Curtis Albin said.
Sophomore Chris Ontiveros has had an up-and-down season, but Kingman (5-3, 1-1 Class 3A-District 11) can advance in the playoffs with a win over visiting Garden Plain (7-1, 1-1) on Thursday night.
“(Ontiveros) has done an admirable job,” Albin said. “… Midway through the third game, he was making mistakes that we couldn’t have and we removed him for a few games.
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“Then we brought him back because he settled down on JV. He really got thrust into a position that’s a big stage for a sophomore who played some JV as a freshman.”
Running back Payton Pickering has been vital in a run-heavy offense, which has taken some pressure off Ontiveros.
In a close game, Kingman’s special teams could be a help. Freshman Tanner Albright has consistently punted well with a 62-yarder as his best. And Luis Franco has eight field goals.
“Against a team like Garden Plain that’s very stingy on defense, a field goal or two would be a huge deal for us,” Albin said.
As for having the pressure of win or the season’s over, Albin relishes it.
“It’s a position you want to be in,” he said. “You want to make the last game of the year matter and have an opportunity to go on in the playoffs. There’s pressure, but I like our team.”