Coup, entering his fifth year, has compiled a 25-16 record at Goessel. The Bluebirds return three seniors, four starters and five additional letter-winners.
“This group is going to have a balanced offense, probably 50-50,” Coup said. “Defensively, we like to use our speed to our strength—especially on our defensive line, where Stultz and Duerksen have been playing together for three years.”
Grady Stultz (5 feet, 10 inches, 160 pounds), Kurtis Duerksen (5-9, 195) and Dustin Peterson (5-11, 160) are the team’s three seniors.
“We’re led by our seniors—those three will key us on both sides of the ball,” Coup said. “Grady is an HOA all-league defensive lineman who led the team in tackles last year. He plays next to Duerksen on the defensive line.”
Duerksen is a four-year starter at the position. He and Stultz also will anchor the offensive line.
“They should be able to handle things up front,” Coup said.
Peterson will return to a familiar position as outside linebacker and will step into a bigger role in the offensive backfield.
“All three of our seniors are tremendous workers and should be great leaders for the young athletes coming up,” Coup said.
On offense, Coup is confident that quarterback Austin Unruh (6-3, 175), running back Travis Fensky (5-10, 160) and wide receiver Craig Banman (6-0, 150) will power an effective attack.
“Our skill players are very talented,” he said. “I’d say our offensive line is really coming along. They’ve been playing on the defensive side for a long time, and now they’ll be playing both sides this year.”
The end positions will be filled by junior lettermen Kendall Voth (6-1, 150) and and Weston Hiebert (6-2, 170).
Hiebert, Unruh and Fensky form, along with Peterson, the team’s linebacker corps on the defensive side of the ball.
Banman and Voth line up in the defensive secondary.
With a smaller roster than others Goessel has assembled in recent years, top newcomers Nathan Walker, Cameron Stultz and Bryant Miller are likely to play important roles.
“Our depth could be a question if people don’t step into roles,” Coup said.
Though less experienced than the 2006 squad, speed will again be a team strength.
“You might even say we’re pretty fast on both sides of the ball,” Coup said. “We’re going to be hitters, and we’re going to fly to the ball.”
Goessel’s athleticism and quickness caught Claflin off-guard in a 60-30 win last October.
“To beat Claflin again, we’ll have to play a very good game—like we did last year,” Coup said. “But they won’t be surprised by our speed this year.”
According to Coup, “Claflin is again likely to be at the top of the district, and Centre has a good young group. The district will be tough this year.”
Goessel opens its season Friday at Norwich.