Rangers rely on seniors


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  The Rangers will head into this season without many senior leaders, but the few they do have could be a key asset in their climb toward the top.
  Unaka's football team is mostly a make-up of freshman, sophomores, and juniors, but some senior stability on the line and in skill positions might be the leadership they need.
  Offensive and defensive guard Travis Pasquale was the fire plug for the Rangers on the line last season, as he made a big difference up front by executing key blocks and defensive stops.
  "We were all definitely a key asset on the line last season, and this year we have fewer numbers, but we're working hard and trying to get the best line for our running backs," said Pasquale. "On defense, we're going to be pretty good. We've got some defensive players we're proud of and are doing a good job, so I think we'll be pretty stout on defense."
  In his senior season, Pasquale has his sights set on a first-time conference title in his four years at Unaka, as the Rangers made their first post-season appearance in over a decade last year.
  The senior lineman has bulked up in strength this season, and if he can elude the injuries this season, it'll give the Ranger's backfield a chance to display their talent.
  "Our line has become more as one, and we have some great coaching," said Pasquale. "We're definitely going to try to win the conference this season and hope for the best."
  Brent Huskins is another senior lineman who'll play a key role in the Rangers success.
  Moving from offensive tackle to center this season will be a challenge for Huskins, but early indications seem to be that he'll make the transition just fine.
  "I'm moving back to center this season, and I started picking back up on it in our scrimmage last week," said Huskins. "I'm starting to get back in the routine of it now, and our line and backs are looking good. Everybody is working hard right now."
  Many of the Rangers are hoping to upset Cloudland and grab the conference title, as this has become one of the goals for Huskins in the 2004 season.
  "Last year we had a pretty good season, and hopefully we'll improve on it this season and do better than what we did last year," Huskins said. "We're not as big as we were last year, but we should make up for it with the strength and speed we have."
  Unaka received a big loss late in the season last year, when quarterback Cody Hurley went down with a leg injury against Cloudland.
  "I'm looking forward to not getting injured this year, and we want to win and work hard," Hurley said.
  Hurley will be replaced at quarterback this season by John Zimmerman, but his skill in the backfield helps give the Rangers a little more versatility.
  Although Hurley was not the feature back for the Rangers, he was devastating at times with his explosive speed and a threat to break a long run at anytime.
  "We want to beat Cloudland this year, and we're working hard in trying to get everybody to come to practice," said Hurley. "We're mentally prepared I think."
  Michael Covarrubias is the type of guy who does whatever the coaches ask of him.
  On offense he plays wide out and at times receives an occasional touch of the ball in the backfield.
  "Everybody is working hard and looking good right now," Covarrubias said. "I think our biggest turn around this season will be not fumbling the ball as much."
  Without a particular set role, Covarrubias is the type of player that can be moved around to fill whatever position needed to help the team.
  "I'm looking forward to filling in at wide receiver and just help the team any possible way I can," Covarrubias said. "We've seen a lot of improvement from last year, and we're hoping to beat Cloudland this year."
  Coach Mike Ensor will be faced without having a great deal of seniors on the roster this season, but the ones he has are expected to display important leadership.
  "We don't have many seniors on the team, but the ones we do I think will show great leadership," Ensor said. "Daniel McInturff is another senior who'll be out on a full-time capacity now and playing some wide receiver along with Adam Ensor who is also a senior on the line, who will possibly start."