?Birds aim for 8-man elite


Goessel football has a seasoned crop of seniors returning this fall: back row (from left), Tyler Schmidt, Weston Hiebert, Aaron Reimer, Alberto Alicandro, Bryant Miller; front row, Austin Cooper, Hayden Goertzen, Cameron Stultz, Andrew DeFreese.

With six returning starters at the outset of coach Justin Coup?s seventh season, Goessel again looks primed to attain a place among the top eight-man Division I football programs in the state.

Goessel posted a 10-game winning streak behind graduated starters Craig Banman, Austin Unruh, Travis Fensky and Kendall Voth?a streak that perennial powerhouse Madison ended, 42-34, in regional play.

Despite the loss of a state champion sprinter in Banman, returning 100-meter-dash qualifiers Cameron Stultz and John Berkholz will bring the elite speed that has characterized the Bluebirds? style of play in recent years.

Stultz, a senior, and Berkholz, a junior, will help secure the defensive backfield and provide potent options from the offensive backfield.

Coup identified three candidates to step into the quarterback role: Neal Brubaker, Tyler Schmidt and Trey Schmidt.

?All three have good arms,? he said. ?But all three bring different talents to the table. It will be a strength to have three good arms competing for the position.?

Senior end and middle linebacker Weston Hiebert?no slouch in the speed department?will be looked upon to bring a physical edge to Goessel?s defense.

?His presence will lead us night in and night out,? Coup said.

Junior Jake Smucker also lettered at end/linebacker last year.

The Bluebirds return three starting linemen: Bryant Miller, Austin Cooper and Alex Ross, to which Coup will add returning letter-winner Andrew DeFreese and newcomer Aaron Reimer.

?We lost a great senior class in ?08, but we have a good core of upperclassmen that return,? Coup said. ?Our strength will be in our experience on the offensive line. They return for their second year together. The experience on the line will help our young backfield.

?In order for us to compete in one of the toughest districts and qualify for our fifth straight playoff appearance we will have to come together as a unit and find depth in our younger athletes,? he added.

?With the leadership of our upperclassmen, qualifying for the playoffs is attainable. But it will be through hard work and a dedication to each position.?

Coup (43-19) may celebrate his 50th coaching victory this season. He also anticipates Claflin and Pretty Prairie will be among the best teams in District No. 4.

He listed Goessel among the top 10 teams statewide, and projected Claflin in the top five.

The Bluebirds? season begins at home against Centre and includes two tests all but certain to be stern: at Claflin Sept. 25, and Pretty Prairie at home in the Oct. 29 regular-season finale.

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