"We've got a lot of weapons," Falcons head coach Kevin Hartwig said of this year's team. "That's something that's a little different for us this year than it was last year when we had the Daniel and Diondre Show all the time. This year we have more variety. With Harvey Burks and Lance White, Ryan Rodriguez, Anthony Anderson - who's a new kid - Hunter Simpson and Roman Runner, we've got a multitude of athletes and it's going to be hard for us to get everybody the ball. We've got a good future ahead of us."
Hartwig welcomes the difficulty of trying to find touches for his many talented, athletic offensive players and envisions the depth of his receiving corps creating coverage problems for teams. He pointed out that in years past, teams have been able to focus their attention on one Falcon receiver and shade a safety over to help with deep coverage - something they won't be able to get away with now, as so many Freedom receivers are capable of breaking the big play.
Despite the glut of talented wideouts, Hartwig is adamant that his team will continue to make running the football effectively the focal point of the offense.
"Our experience, gamewise, is up front," said Hartwig. "If we have a go-to guy, honestly, I don't know. We have a lot of guys and we're just going to have to see who's going to step up. At camp we had a dozen or so kids step up and it's going to depend more on our philosophy and where we're going to go with the football."
All-league offensive linemen Gonsalo Hernandez and Robert Warrren return to anchor the Falcons up front alongside twin brothers Jorge and Geraldo Magana and a host of other young, hungry players.
As of right now Hartwig plans on capitalizing on the team's outstanding depth on the lines by allowing his linemen to play one way - rather than asking players to line up both as offensive and defensive linemen. Each player will be assigned to one unit to keep him fresh and allow him to maximize his practice time by focusing on a single position.
The graduation of last year's starting quarterback Diondre Borel, who finished his Falcon football career with school records in every major quarterbacking statistic, means that Freedom must fill a major void behind center. As of now, the top two candidates to replace Borel are Ryan Rodriguez, last year's JV signal caller, and White, who played wide receiver and defensive back for the varsity squad a year ago.
Hartwig has yet to pick a favorite, noting that each brings a different skill set to the position. Rodriguez better fits the mold of a traditional pocket passer and White provides a more dangerous scrambling threat. There's a distinct chance that neither wins the position outright and the two split quarterbacking time this fall.
"Team chemistry is our greatest strength," said Hartwig. "We got each other's back. That's kind of been our motto: 'You've got my back; I've got your back.' That's the most important thing, because when it comes down to it, I'm on the sideline and the other coaches are on the sideline. Out there on the field, they just have themselves. When it's fourth and goal or we have to get a stop, they're going to have to rely on each other.
"That's our strong point right now. There's no one real leader on this team, we have a bunch of them. Usually a team will have one or two leaders and we have 10 or 12."