Ending its final 11-man football season last fall with a close 21-13 loss to a highly touted Olpe team in the bi-district round of the state playoffs, Canton-Galva prepares for its eight-man debut this season.
The close loss to Olpe belies the Eagles? 4-6 record last season. But having fewer positions to fill this year, the Eagles may be strong at several positions, particularly along the offensive line.
But sizable linemen Bo Moddelmog (6-feet, 250 pounds), Bret Middleton (5-8, 280) and Aaron Thompson (5-10, 240) enter their senior seasons without an established quarterback to protect.
Coach Zac Hoppes, who begins his fifth year at the helm with a 24-18 record, said that for the team to be successful, finding a replacement at quarterback for four-year starter Ted Regehr will be key.
The battle to be the starting signal-caller will likely come down to a faceoff between senior Dustin Abrahams (5-11, 185) and junior Brett Williams (5-11, 150). Both were pass catchers rather than throwers a year ago.
With senior Tony Arendt (5-10, 190) and junior Bryant Baldwin (5-7, 160) running for a combined 1,041 yards and six touchdowns in 2007, the Eagles proficiency on the ground may well provide the offensive firepower Canton-Galva needs.
With seven starters returning on defense, CGHS has the linemen and linebackers to slow its opponents.
In addition to Arendt and Baldwin, the team?s top tacklers include defensive back Brett Williams, defensive end John Shearer and defensive back Logan Rierson. All three are juniors.
Seniors Ethan Evans and Dustin Schmidt will likely factor in on either side of the ball as will junior Marc Jowers.
In addition to deciding on a quarterback, Hoppes will be preparing to face what he calls a ?schedule full of traditional eight-man powers.?
?We have plenty of returners and good numbers on our team,? Hoppes said. ?We must adapt quickly to the transition from 11-man to eight-man football.?
The Eagles open at Hope Sept. 5, host Centre Sept. 12 and visit Goessel Oct. 24.