One Last Ride: The Few, the Proud


Will Nolan, Staff Writer

The Holy Family football program will say goodbye to ten members of the team during this year’s annual senior night.   This year’s senior class has been through what could be described as an up-and-down time at Holy Family.

The fall of 2019 saw the Holy Family C Team (which was made up of mentioned seniors) go 1-7, losing the last seven games of the season.  Sophomore year was the COVID season, a season that we were not even sure was going to happen at one point, a season that in itself was possibly the weirdest thing that we may ever experience. Masks on the sidelines, only a certain number of people on the sidelines, and no fans. The  Junior and Senior seasons have had a sense of normalcy, perhaps retribution for the year that was 2020.

The few, the proud.  Why do I use this description for this year’s senior class? I use this term because this class is considerably smaller than the ones that have come before it.  Summer workouts in June saw 19 seniors intend to play football.  By the end of August, that number dwindled down to 10 due to injuries, prior commitments such as other sports, or an overall lack of enjoyment of the sport.  The 10 players remaining decided to stick through the physical and mental gauntlet that is the Holy Family football program.  Now without further introduction, your seniors:

Chase McNaughton-#11-Sr. RB — Chase McNaughton joined the Holy Family football program after transferring from Erie High School.  He joined during his Sophomore year and has been a great addition to the program ever since.  His lightning speed and luscious, bouncing afro have made him a sight to see both on and off the football field.  His favorite memory over his time with the Holy Family football program was the 34-18 home, playoff victory over Pueblo South.  A game that saw him total 12 carries for 81 yards with a touchdown, accompanied by 2 catches for 53 yards.  What will he miss the most? The week-to-week schedule of practice, rest, lift, practice, game repeat.

(C) Nic Christoff-#22-Sr. S —  When you see the hard-hitting electric playmaker that Nic is today, you probably didn’t think that his time at Holy Family started as a quarterback, rather than a ballhawk safety.  After some rough hits during his freshman and sophomore years, Nic decided he would rather be the hammer than the nail out on the field.  He had a stellar Junior campaign and has had a tremendous Senior season that has seen him become an anchor of the Holy Family defensive unit.   Like Chase, his favorite memory was the Pueblo South playoff game.  He will leave with fond memories of the breakfasts that the Holy Family defensive backs (DB) would assemble for every game day morning.  What will he miss the most? Playing the game he loves, in front of the entire Holy Family community.

Giacomo Frank-#25-Sr. DE, TE  (Giac-A-Clock)  — A player that has maintained near-perfect attendance during his four years with the Holy family Football program. A player that is reliable and is always in the right spot at the right time usually, and runs off the field with his strut that only he could make look good. His favorite memory?  By far the most unexpected answer that I received, he will miss the cold practices that made his hands so cold that he would usually have to wait a minute to open up his locker due to how frozen solid his hands were.  He will miss the group of guys that have morphed into more than teammates over these last 4 years.  A group of guys who were, and always will be in his corner.

Xander Brandenburg-#33-Sr. DE —  Xander Brandenburg has been given the great distinction as the tallest member of this year’s senior class.  A man that has used his speed, size, and brute strength to bully any opposing player that lined across from him.  His favorite memory over these last 4 years was this year’s revenge game against defending state-champion Ft. Morgan.  He said, “I hated losing to them last year, I wanted to beat them this year”.  What will he miss the most?  His coaches and teammates, a group of guys he has been with for the last 4 years.

(C) Graham Redak-#58-Sr. C — Perhaps the most versatile man in this year’s senior class, Mr. Graham Redak.  Graham has played almost every single position on the offensive line due to the numerous injuries that teammates have gone down with.  Graham has always been the next guy up and done his role to a point that exceeds everyone’s expectations.  Graham’s favorite memory has been the time spent around the team, whether it be the team meetings, team dinners, the huddle, games, and practices.  He will miss the shenanigans such as “fueling up before a game” during his time with the offensive line, that is all that I am allowed to divulge on the particular topic.

Jordan “Everardo” Nunez-#4-Sr. LB —  Jordan, unfortunately, broke his wrist about 2 weeks into Sophomore year.  However, he came back better in his Junior season, where he became a guy that we could always trust to make the play on kickoff and punt. His senior season has seen a more increased role, where he has made impact plays on both special teams and defense.  His favorite memory has been the Pueblo South playoff game, a game that he described as a “dogfight”.  He will miss the friendships that he has developed over the past four years with the program, describing the program as a “brotherhood” rather than a team.

Roman Olsen-#56-Sr. DL, OL —  Perhaps the most improved player in this year’s class.  He walked into his Freshman year with minimal knowledge and experience related to football.  He will leave as an absolute force to be reckoned with on the defensive line.  His explosive power and deceptive speed have given him the tools to become a solid defensive piece for the Holy Family Tigers.  His favorite memory was last season when Holy Family defeated Frederick 42-35 in OT last year.  A game that kept confidence high and proved that Holy Family belonged in the conversation of contenders last season.  He will miss the “shenanigans” that he has been a part of as a member of the offensive and defensive line.

(C) Jace Gunderson-#2-Sr. S — The other half of the dynamic duo is in the secondary of the Holy Family defense.  A fierce competitor both on and off the field.  How fierce of a competitor is he?  Jace showed up to Holy Family’s game against Northfield with his pads and helmet despite him not being 100% cleared to return from a knee injury that he suffered just 3 weeks before, that is how much this game and team have meant to Jace.  He sees the team as more than a team, he went as far as to say that his favorite part of his time at Holy Family has been the friendships developed while here.  Describing the team as something bigger, a “brothers” rather than teammates.  The thing he will miss the most was something only a psycho would answer with.  I asked him what he would miss the most, he said: “Getting yelled at by Coach Ybarra, in both practice and games”.

Connor Henkel-#14-Sr. CB —  Connor Henkel’s junior season came to a crashing end when he broke his collarbone during the tigers 2021 season and after dealing with a rib injury during the first month of the season, Connor has not looked back.  He has improved gradually each week since his injury and has made the Holy Family secondary one of the best units in the 3A classification.  His high football IQ has made him a tough player to throw against and if he gets in space with the ball, you aren’t going to catch him.  Ask the Fort Morgan onside team, I believe that they would agree. His favorite memory during his time at HF was when Holy Family was undefeated league champions during the 2020 season.  He said that he will miss the friendships that he has developed over these last 4 years, the team dinners, DB breakfasts, and defensive meetings before each game.

(C) Will Nolan-#7-Sr. K —  I have been the kicker for the Holy Family football program these past two years.  I have two constant goals, make sure that I am reliable and maintain composure in high-pressure situations. I think I have done a decent job at this, but don’t ask me, ask my teammates.  My favorite memory over these past four years has been the Frederick game this year, a game that saw Holy Family pull out a 27-26 victory after late drive heroics and a certain kicker putting the ball through the crooked uprights with 11 seconds to go.  What will I miss the most? I’m going to miss the home football games.  There really is nothing  that I have ever experienced.  From the start of the day at school, when the school buzzes the whole day over the excitement for the game, the minutes leading up to the game walking down the hill with members of the “brotherhood”, the cannon, the student section, all of it creates an atmosphere that can’t be matched and then when we win and sing the fight song, there is no feeling greater than that.

We all share the same experiences over these past four years.  Whether it be our first-ever win against Pueblo South, watching “Moana”  freshman year on the bus ride on the way to Discovery Canyon, the team dinners, or singing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” after a victory, all of it.  Those are all memories that cannot be replicated.  This senior class may not go down as the best or biggest, but that won’t matter to any one of these ten men.

The Holy Family Tigers will play the Lincoln Lancers on Saturday and then they will play their final regular season of the game against John F. Kennedy.  After that, the playoff fate will be announced for the team.