ORIGINALLY WRITTEN STAFF
Coach Randall Rogers likes the speed and experience he has at the skilled positions on offense this season, but it was his defense that shone brightly in a 10-0 win over Inman in the season opener Friday.
Rogers, in his fourth year, got his only points from a 73-yard kickoff return from Darren Yamada to open the game, and Garrett Thompson was credited with a 2-point safety-all in the first quarter.
Give some credit to the Inman defense, because Rogers does have some firepower among his seniors.
Heading the list is Thompson, a 6-1, 190-pound all-state selection who plays running back and linebacker and contributed a lot to the Eagles’ 6-3 record last season. He was named among the “Preseason Elite 11” by the Hutch News.
Also on the list are all-league selections Yamada, a 6-0, 180-pound wide receiver and defensive back, and Justin Smith, a 5-10, 175-pound running back and linebacker.
Randall also returns Aaron Bundy, a 6-4, 230-pound all-state selection who plays offensive and defensive line, and senior Bryan Smith, a 6-4, 200-pound tight end and defensive end.
Alex Westbrook, 6-2, 170 pounds, is a letterwinner at defensive and will have the difficult task of filling the shoes of the Eagle’s all-time passing leader, Jake Warren, at quarterback.
Randall does have some concerns. “We replace four starters on the offensive line,” he said. “We play in a very strong district and league will be tough this year, too.”
Coach Justin Redeker, coming off a 4-5 record last season, knew inexperience would be one of the key challenges facing his young football team this fall.
The Cougars put 28 points on the scoreboard in their season opener Friday night, but his young defense couldn’t keep White City out of the end zone, losing 54-28 on the road.
Trailing 24-0 at half, the Cougars tried to dig themselves out of the hole, scoring twice in the third quarter and twice in the fourth. But it wasn’t enough.
Kyle Luna, who scored the team’s first touchdown of the season, is a 5-9, 180-pound sophomore fullback and will be one of Centre’s key players this season.
Also scoring for Centre was Greg Klenda, a 6-0, 175-pound senior, on a 49-yard run. The Cougars added two fourth-quarter touchdowns, one by Curtis Gutsch on an 8-yard run and the other on a 10-yard pass from Gutsch to Todd Stahlecker.
Redeker is looking for leadership and production from several other players, too. Four seniors form the nucleus of the team. They are Klenda, C.J. Irwin, a 6-0, 180-pound end and middle linebacker, and, on the offensive and defensive lines, Jarod Beneke, 6-5, 240, and Tyson Ryff, 5-8, 210.
Joining Beneke and Ryff on the line are a pair of junior standouts, Todd Beneke, 6-8, 220, and Russell Klenda, 5-10, 165.
The Cougars, members of the Eisenhower League, will compete in the Eight-man I, District 6.
Goessel didn’t begin its 2000 season as coach Jay Goering hoped they would. The Bluebirds fell behind 20-0 in the second quarter and couldn’t make up the gap, losing to Hutchinson Central Christian 48-22 Friday night.
It was Central Christian’s first football win since 1998, and a disappointment for a Goessel team that was looking for success early in the season because they face a tough eight-man Heart of America schedule down the road.
“We play in the toughest district in the State of Kansas,” Goering said. Little River is the defending state champion, Burrton was a sub-state finalist, and Goessel, which finished 5-5, also qualified.
One of the most encouraging components of this year’s team is the size if the roster.
“For the first time in four years, we will have more than 18 players out for football,” said Goering, who is in his fourth year. “We will finally have enough players to actually scrimmage in practice as well as play a full JV schedule. We also are starting to get some of the good athletes who have not traditionally come out for football in the past.”
They’ll have big shoes to fill. Gone are All-HOA performers Chad Unrau, who also was honorable mention all-state, J.D. Schroeder, Matt Schmidt and Kerry Rosfeld.
Tyler Green, a 5-10, 175-pound senior tailback, and Jeff Franzen, a 5-8, 165-pound junior end, are the Bluebird’s only returning offensive starters.
Green, who also played in the secondary, will be joined by Ryan Glendenning, a 6-0, 175-pound senior defensive end, as the only returning defensive starters.
The other returning lettermen are Vaughn Miller, a 5-11, 215-pound junior center and defensive linemen, and Daniel Schmidt, a 6-0, 175-pound senior who plays offensive guard and defensive line.
Ben Schmidt, at 5-7, 135-pound sophomore, will be the Bluebird quarterback.
“He is not as fast and doesn’t have the arm strength of Chad Unrau, but he is very intelligent, throws with good accuracy and makes good reads,” Goering said.
The fact that Goering has six sophomores and six freshmen on the team underlines his team’s inexperience, but it also bodes well for the future of Bluebird football.
MARION, looking for a return to past greatness, took their first step toward that goal Friday night by beating Minneapolis, 20-0, on the road.
Coach Grant Thierolf’s team nailed down the win with three touchdown runs from quarterback Jamey Cooper-including two scores in the fourth quarter-and a solid defensive performance.
Cooper may have given notice of what’s ahead this season. The 5-10, 170-pound senior ran for more than 500 yards last year, earned All-Cottonwood Valley League honors, and looks to be Marion’s offensive catalyst in 2000.
The Warriors have two other returning all-league players to anchor their line play. Chris Byer is a 6-3, 240-pound senior offensive and defensive tackle. Andrew Brookens is a 5-8, 200-pound center and linebacker.
Thierolf’s other top returners are Heath Tajchman, a 6-0, 180-pound senior offensive guard and linebacker, and Steven Janzen, a 6-0, 180-pound offensive guard and defensive end.
In all, the Warriors return 12 letterwinners from a 1999 team that finished 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the CVL.
The other letterwinners are Jess Whiteman (6-1, 170, senior, defensive back), Robert Verbic (5-8, 160, junior, running back/defensive back), Joel Thomas (5-10, 180, senior, offensive guard/linebacker), James Karhoff (5-10, 250, senior, defensive tackle), Jared Smith (5-11, 180-pound, junior, wide receiver/ defensive back), Cory Nelson (5-7, 170, junior, running back/linebacker) and Braxton Skiles (6-2, 180, tight end/ defensive end).
Dustin Gomez, a 5-11, 190-pound tight end and defensive end has transferred in as a senior from Texas. Manny Ruefenacht, an exchange student from Switzerland, will do some kicking.
Peabody-Burns, with 14 seniors, has first-year coach Chris Young hopeful that the Warriors will improve on their disappointing 1-8 record last season.
A close, 6-0, season-opening loss to Central Burden last Friday night didn’t help the team’s won-loss record, but it does indicate the Warriors should be more competitive this season than in 1999, when they were outscored by more than 25 points a game.
Young’s top players this season will likely be Mike Hedrick, a 5-9, 180-pound senior fullback and linebacker; Jason Callahan, a 6-4, 200-pound senior offensive tackle and defensive end; Mike Hurst, a 5-11, 190-pound senior tight end and defensive end; and Brad Shaw, a 5-9, 175-pound offensive lineman and linebacker.
Peabody-Burns will join Canton-Galva in the 11-man division of the Heart of America League this season.