Coming off two-straight 0-8 seasons playing 11-man football, Peabody-Burns High School will be adjusting to 8-man football in 2010.
Moving from the Heart of America League to the Wheat State League, the Warriors now play 8-man Division 1, which is a new game for coach David Pickens, but not the players.
Peabody-Burns joined Goessel and Little River and members of the defunct Dwight D. Eisenhower League—Centre, Hope, Solomon, Wakefield, White City and Elyria Christian—to form the Wheat State League.
“Luckily, most of our players have played 8-man in junior high,” Pickens said. “So they are familiar with the game even though they haven’t played it for the last couple years.”
PBHS will be senior-dominated this fall.
“Most of our key players are seniors,” Pickens said. “A few of our seniors have come out for their junior and senior year so they’re a little bit behind. But they’re still talented.”
The Warriors will start all seniors on the offensive line. Daniel Martinez will occupy the center position. On Martinez’s left and right will be Trevor Foth and Spencer Moffett. The duo will also play on the defensive line.
Running through the holes the senior line creates will be running back Storm Pickens, who also will play linebacker.
Trevor Hatton and Derek Price will play slot back. Andrew Scheffler and Jacob Gillet will line up at wide receiver. Joseph Lopez will be the tight end. Price will also play linebacker. Gillet will serve as the kicker.
While the majority of positions will be filled by seniors, sophomore Hunter Pickens will start his second season at quarterback.
“He took some lumps as a freshman,” said father and coach David Pickens. “He’s developing fairly nicely and I think he’ll do a good job.”
Hunter Pickens will be backed up by senior Abe Eldridge, who also will play linebacker.
The young quarterback is not the only sophomore who will see action. Austin Savage and Lucas Larson will see time on defense and special teams.
“They’re good players on the defensive side of the ball and good sized kids,” Coach Pickens said.
He admitted it’s going to take some time for him to adjust to coaching an 8-man team.
“I feel like I have some really good athletes and if we get beat in close games, it’s probably going to be my fault, just from inexperience,” he said.
To prepare for the season, the sixth-year head coach has summoned help from colleagues.
“I’ve talked to quite a few coaches,” Pickens said. “I’ve talked to some coaches out of state that run some clinics and got quite a few pointers, but there is nothing like getting that game experience.”
PBHS was picked to finish fifth in the Wheat State League behind Little River, Centre, Goessel, Hope and ahead of Solomon, Wakefield and White City.
The Warriors will play in 8-man Division 1 District 8 and are picked to finish fourth. Little River is picked to finish first followed by Claflin, Goessel, Peabody-Burns, Lincoln, Solomon and Canton-Galva.
PBHS will open its season Sept. 4 at Centre.