- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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HYANNIS, Mass. -- This is season is Doug Crook Sr.’s third at the helm of Barnstable High football and, after last year’s 7-3 record and three-way share of the Old Colony League title, they’re buzzing about the Red Raiders from Marstons Mills to Osterville.
They’re an exciting team to watch, particularly behind junior quarterback, Doug “D.J.” Crook Jr. Barnstable has the potential to put points up in a hurry working out of its spread offense.
And they’re only getting better.
“It means everything,” D.J. said about his rapport with his receiving crew. “Just being able to trust them with whatever I throw. It’s almost muscle memory with them. I’ve been throwing to them for three years, so it just makes it easier.”
It’s scary to think of what could be, considering last year’s performance by the junior Crook and his receivers.
D.J. threw for 2,082 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, after a 1,980-yard campaign as a freshman.
“This is the first year that we’ve all our starting receivers back,” the senior Crook said. “Now, they all have three years of varsity experience in the system. We’re hoping that’ll mean big things.”
That receiving corps is led by Crook Jr.’s primary target, junior Jordan Henderson, who exploded for a three-touchdown performance against Thanksgiving rival Falmouth last year. Crook Sr. believes Henderson to be “one the best receivers in the state.”
Fellow junior Mike Holmes provides size, at 6-foot-4, and speed from the outside, while Matt Delaney catches just about everything that’s thrown his way underneath.
“It’s fun for a wide receiver,” said Delaney, who has been playing football with D.J. Crook since they were 5 years old. “We throw about 35 times a game, so there are a lot of chances to catch the football. It’s a fun offense to run.”
However, for all the hubbub about the Red Raiders aerial attack, they remained remarkably balanced on offense in 2009. Barnstable gained nearly 2,000 yards on the ground as well, due in no small part to running back Dennis Reddy.
“It’s a lot of blocking as a running back,” Reddy said of his responsibilities in the spread. “But it obviously helps when we’re passing a lot and then come at them with the run. Either way, we can do it.”
Yet, for the all the points the Red Raiders are capable of putting on the board, it doesn’t mean much without winning.
“It wasn’t good enough the way we finished last year,” Delaney said. “We need to win that OCL title because we’re back on the map now. I think we have the talent to do well and we want to prove it.”
D.J. added: “If you look around here, we’re not that big. But we’re tough and we’re always going to try as hard as we can to get as far as we can.”
BARNSTABLE AT A GLANCE
2009: 7-3 (3-1 Old Colony League)
Coach: Doug Crook Sr. (third year, 10-10)
Players to watch: Doug Crook Jr., Jr., QB/P, 6-2, 185 lbs.; Jordan Henderson, Sr., WR, 6-0, 170 lbs.; Mike Holmes, Sr., 6-3, 185 lbs.; Dennis Reddy, Sr., RB, 5-10, 180 lbs.; Ben Pogue, Sr., OL, 6-4, 260 lbs.; Andrew Ellis, So., LB, 5-11, 200 lbs.
Strengths: Skill and depth at wide receiver, quarterbacks.
Weaknesses: Lack of experience and depth on offensive line.
Outlook: The Red Raiders will be able to put points on the board with just about any team in the state. That’s no secret. But Barnstable’s X-factor could be 5-foot-3, 140-pound receiver Jason Carlino, who could see significant time as a slot receiver. “I hate to use the Wes Welker analogy,” Doug Crook Sr. said. “But he’s got a little bit of Wes in him.” The one question on the offensive side will be how the Red Raiders’ young line will hold up besides talented tackle Ben Pogue. Crook will have some decisions to make on the defense, as his squad returns a good number of players who saw varsity playing time, but who also weren’t starters last year. However, Barnstable does have standout sophomore middle linebacker Andrew Ellis, who although young is a name you’ll be hearing about for quite some time.