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2016 Prep Football Previews: Holmes counting on ‘pack leaders’ to show team the path to success

The NKyTribune will be providing focused coverage of NKY high school football throughout the season, thanks to support from St. Elizabeth Healthcare Sports Medicine. See all of our pre-season features on each of NKY’s 21 high school football teams and follow our coverage, including roundups each week at Northern Kentucky High School Football.

By Evan Merrill
NKyTribune intern

After losing 11 seniors on last year’s 4-7 team, Holmes football coach Ben Nevels is putting together a new starting lineup with players who have the mindset it takes to succeed.

Holmes pack leaders

The “pack leaders” on the Holmes football team include, left to right, Kamren Kays, Salih Abdullah, Stan Nicely and Seth Hille. (Photo by Evan Merrill)

“I’m confident in their ability and preparation,” Nevels said. “We just have to take care of us, do all of the little things right. And once we start doing that we’ll contend with anybody.”

The coach is relying on a group of players he calls his “pack leaders” to set good examples for their teammates to follow. The group includes seniors Salih Abdullah and Seth Hille and juniors Kamren Kays and Stan Nicely, who were all key contributors for the Bulldogs last season.

“I tell all of our coaches and players it’s a trickle down effect,” Nevels said. “The majority of our leaders are coaches initially. We lead the way in the locker room and coming out on to the field. The pack leaders then take it from us. It’s not a one guy type deal leading the team. It’s all of us leading with one goal in mind.”

One unquestioned key to the Bulldogs’ success is Abdullah. He’ll be the primary ball carrier on offense after rushing for 586 yards and five touchdowns last season.

“The coaches preach a lot about effort,” Abdullah said. “If we give all of our effort, no one can really beat us. I believe in our ability. We’re some of the fastest players around. No one can run with us. We give our effort and work hard, then it doesn’t matter who’s on the line against us. Nobody can beat us.”

Abdullah took a few snaps at quarterback last season, but he’s not going to fill the vacancy left by the graduation of Desean Brumfield, who ran the Bulldogs’ offense the last three seasons. The leading contenders for the vacant quarterback position are Kays, senior Jaleel Crumes and sophomore James Walker.

St E Football plug“We’re just sitting back and watching,” Nevels said of the competition for quarterback during preseason practice. “We’re going to see how it plays out and whoever needs to be in there week one is going to be there in week one.”

Hille and Nicely are returning linebackers on the Holmes defensive unit that held five opponents to 14 points or less last season, including shutouts against Newport and Bellevue.  The two defensive veterans know what their responsibilities are as pack leaders.

“Keep working hard, be a good example for the young guys at the school and give it our all no matter what,” Hille said.

Nevels said this will be one of the fastest teams he’s ever coached since he took charge of the Holmes program in 2013. That’s the advantage the Bulldogs expect to have over the four Class 4A district opponents on their schedule.

“At every position, we have some speed,” Nevels said. “Everybody says, ‘you guys are always fast,’ but I’m talking speed from the defensive line, the linebackers, safeties, DBs. We can flat out run. That’s the difference with this year’s team and others. We have that speed and desire to get better at every position. As long as we continue with that desire, I think these guys are going to make history.”

Holmes has not had a winning season since 2012 when they finished 6-5 and the team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2009. This year’s team knows what it’ll take to get their program back on the winning track.

“If all 11 players on the field do their assignment, we can compete with anybody and have a shot at the district,” Niceley said. “We got the talent, the talent’s there, we just need the focus.”


2015 SEASON: 4-7 record, lost in first round of Class 4A playoffs.
DISTRICT: Class 4A, District 7 with Bourbon County, Harrison County, Mason County and Scott.
HEAD COACH: Ben Nevels (11-22 in three seasons at Holmes).

Aug. 19 – HOLY CROSS, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 – PARIS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 – at Walton-Verona, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 – LLOYD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 – at Bellevue, 7 p.m..
Oct. 7 – BOURBON COUNTY, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 – at Mason County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 – at Scott, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 – NEWPORT, 7 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:
Dixie Heights



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One Comment

  1. Jeanelle Fuson says:

    Holmes plays with heart no matter what.Looking for a good season guys so play hard and fast.Go Seth

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