Archive for Wednesday, August 31, 2005

2005 Kaw Valley League football capsule previews

August 31, 2005

Bonner Springs Braves

Lew Kasselman -- 10th year

2004 Record: 1-8

Synopsis: After suffering through a gut-wrenching 1-8 season in 2004, the Bonner Springs Braves enter 2005 as a team on a mission.

The team had all the talent to make a run for the league title a season ago, but chemistry and focus hindered the Braves' chances. One loss turned into two. Two losses snowballed into three and four. And by the end of the season, the team stood shocked with a one-win season.

This year, things figure to go better for the Braves. Although the team lost its quarterback -- two-year starter Jordan Lamb -- as well as its leading rusher in Christian McDonald, the squad returns a load of young talent, as well as nearly the entire offensive line. Captain Emmanuel McComb figures to lead on both sides of the ball, anchoring the O-line and wreaking havoc as the team's new middle linebacker. Robert Smith and RJ Wild return to the trenches, and both could dominate the line of scrimmage.

Senior Jacob Nelson, of the Tom Brady mold, figures to call the shots in the huddle, but Nelson won't be asked to do much more than effectively manage a game. And with tailbacks Tyler Jock and LT Lee, as well as wide receivers Anthony Brown and Blake Kasselman, Nelson should have plenty of weapons at his disposal.

A run at the league title is not out of the question, and an improvement on last year's dismal performance is almost assured.

Players to watch:
¢ Emmanuel McComb -- Sr. -- O. line, Middle linebacker
¢ Tyler Jock -- Soph. -- Tailback, Outside linebacker
¢ Travis Hubbel -- Sr. -- Outside LB
¢ LT Lee -- Soph. -- Tailback, Safety
¢ Anthony Brown -- Jr. -- Wide receiver, tailback, quarterback

Basehor-Linwood Bobcats:

Steve Hopkins -- second year

2004 Record: 5-4

Synopsis:During his first season on the sidelines with the Bobcats, Steve Hopkins guided the school back to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. Although three seasons doesn't seem like that long of a drought, the three seasons the Bobcats endured during that time were three of the worst in school history.

In order to turn things around, Hopkins not only employed new offensive and defensive schemes, but he also brought a change of attitude.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, he'll look to capitalize on the momentum created by last year's squad in 2005.

Doing so won't be easy, as the Bobcats lost all-world quarterback Michael Armstrong and an excellent senior class. But it's a system that Hopkins has put in place, and he's hoping that plugging in new parts will lead to similar results.

The team's defense should be its strength. All-league lineman, senior Alex Smith, figures to anchor the line on both sides of the ball, and when joined by junior Kevin Marshall the two figure to make life tough for opponents looking to run the ball up the middle.

On offense, the Bobcats return their feature back from a season ago. Senior Will Peterson provided a solid one-two punch with Armstrong and ran for more than 900 yards. This year Peterson has his eyes on the 1,000-yard mark, and most figure he's a lock to reach it.

The Bobcats are young, but have experience in the right places, and with Hopkins' intense offseason regiment now two years in place, this team figures to be ready for anything that comes its way -- including a return trip to the playoffs.

Players to Watch:

  • Will Peterson -- Sr. -- Tailback
    ¢ Alex Smith -- Sr. -- O. and D. line
    ¢ Garrett Chumley -- Jr. -- Quarterback
    ¢ Kevin Marshall -- Jr. O. and D. line

Mill Valley Jaguars

George Radell: 6th year

2004 Record: 6-4

Synopsis: For the first time in four years, Mill Valley will take the field without David Woods in its backfield. But that doesn't mean this will be a team without a leader. Senior quarterback Trey Scott returns for the Jags after a season in which he guided Mill Valley to the Kaw Valley League title. And having a returning signal caller in coach George Radell's Wing-T offense is about as important as having a center to snap the ball.

Scott played well as a junior, but will likely be asked to step up to the next level as a senior. With his cool, calm and collected demeanor, it's possible this quarterback could do just that. But if he has his eyes on leading the Jags to another KVL title, he'll likely have to rely on another Woods, David's younger brother Justin.

Justin Woods is a lightning fast back made from a different mold than his brother. While David prided himself on earning the tough yards and running right over people, Justin is a burner who likes to get to the corner and show defenders his heels.

From his spot at linebacker, senior Ryan Gracy could bring the grit and toughness that Mill Valley has come to be known for, and he also should provide a punch in the backfield along side Woods.

Mill Valley will be one of the younger clubs in the league, as just six seniors are out for this year's team, but several players with junior varsity experience figure to be poised to step into their varsity roles.

Players to Watch:

  • Ryan Gracy -- Sr. -- Linebacker, Halfback
    ¢ Justin Woods -- Jr. -- Fullback, Cornerback
    ¢ Trey Scott -- Sr. -- Quarterback, Safety
    ¢ Andrew Wendorff - Jr. -- Tight End, LB

Santa Fe Trail Chargers

Dave Watkins -- 3rd year

2004 Record: 2-7

Synopsis: The Chargers ended the season with an 18-17 victory against Spring Hill. Santa Fe Trail opened the season at 1-1 after defeating Immaculata, 14-7, in Week 2, but dropped six straight before defeating Spring Hill.

With 13 seniors returning, many of whom have varsity experience, the Chargers should be in position to improve on last year's record. Skill positions should be Trail's strong point. In addition, they've got a tradition. The Chargers have been down the last couple of years, but tradition always comes back to benefit teams. The squad has some very big underclassmen coming up who will be on varsity this year.

Last year, SFT didn't have a very strong senior class. This year's senior class will be much improved from last year.

And this will be their third year in a new system, a year usually when turnaround and improvements come dramatically. Size and strength will be improvements from last year. They should be much bigger on the offensive and defensive lines, but the team will have an overall young line on offense.

Players to watch:

  • Aaron Beatty -- Sr. -- Running Back
    ¢ Brian Schively -- Sr. -- Quarterback
    ¢ Chris Sadler -- Sr. - Fullback
    ¢ Pat Robitaille -- Sr. -- Lineman
    ¢ Charlie Schively -- Sr. -- Lineman

Tonganoxie Chieftains

Mark Elston -- 6th year

2004 Record: 9-2

Synopsis: Last year, a hard-nosed Tonganoxie team fell in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs to eventual state champion Topeka-Hayden, 27-14. Tonganoxie's only regular-season loss was to Mill Valley.

The Chieftains lost a large senior class from the 2003 team that went 8-2. Last year's team responded with a 9-2 record and a playoff win. Improving on the previous year's record for a second straight time could be difficult, considering the team has to replace its starting quarterback in Ross Starcher and top linebacker in Kaleb Lawrence.

The Chieftains, though, still are going to have some good size up front. They have a solid lineman in Kent Fleming who was extremely tough last year. He's one who's going to be a force.

Tonganoxie has a well-disciplined group. THS has a tradition of talented running backs, such as Billy Baska, who was a senior in 2003. It's a backfield that's just reloading.

Players to watch:

  • Kent Fleming -- Sr. -- Defensive lineman
    ¢ Aaron Adcox -- Sr. -- Linebacker
    ¢ Phil George -- Sr. -- Offensive lineman
    ¢ Jeff Frank -- Sr. -- Offensive lineman
    ¢ Brandon Willis -- Sr. -- Running back
    ¢ Matt Drake -- Sr. -- Running back

Lansing Lions

Bill Pekarek -- 5th year

2004 Record: 8-3

Synopsis: Lansing may be one of the most experienced teams in the KVL this year. The Lions return most of their starters on both sides of the ball, including four offensive linemen, starting quarterback Matt Warner and starting fullback Lance Fink. They also return six of their top eight tacklers on defense.

The Lions' primary question mark will be how well they'll replace senior Jeff Slater. Slater, their top rusher and tackler a year ago, broke his arm during a summer basketball game and possibly could miss the season. Junior Kyle Grape and sophomore Mike Griffin will battle to take over the duties at tailback while junior Joe Kohl will start in Slater's place at linebacker.

Lansing's first two games -- home contests against Tonganoxie and Mill Valley -- could dictate how the season goes. The Lions were blown out by THS and Mill Valley to start the 2004 season before they rattled off eight consecutive victories. If the Lions are able to stay healthy and establish a running game again, they could be one of the top teams in the league again this season.

Players to watch:

  • Matt Warner -- Quarterback
    ¢ Lance Fink -- Fullback, Linebacker
    ¢ Joe Kohl -- Linebacker
    ¢ Logan Ryan -- O. and D. line
    ¢ Kyle Grape -- Running Back
    ¢ Mike Griffin -- Running Back

Bishop Ward Cyclones

Greg Duggins -- 3rd season

2004 Record: 4-5

Synopsis: After getting their feet wet during their first season in the Kaw Valley League, the Cyclones will line up in 2005 ready to compete. And with the combination of their returning talent and experience, as well as the wide-open nature of the league, they might just have as good a shot as anybody.

Greg Duggins returns to the sideline to guide a team that suits up 14 seniors, many of whom have significant varsity experience.

A good portion of this team's experience is up front, as the Cyclones return several offensive and defensive linemen. Three of those players -- Carlos Pacheco, Donte Jones and Tony Faulk -- will be starting for the third straight season. In addition, running backs Ian Tomasic and Jason Hendrix will also be starting for the third year in a row. Tomasic was an all-league selection on the defensive line last year, but this year Duggins plans to move him back to safety because of the team's depth on the line.

While all the factors point toward a sensational season for the Cyclones, Duggins and his staff aren't counting their chickens just yet. Duggins realizes that his team still has a few holes and it will rely on a handful of underclassmen to fill those spots. But the team was determined to get ready this offseason, and Duggins promises that if his team can stay healthy it will show up to compete every single week.

Players to watch:

  • Ian Tomasic -- Sr. -- Running back, safety
    ¢ Tony Faulk -- Sr. -- Tight end, d-end
    ¢ Stephen Maurin -- Jr. -- Quarterback
    ¢ Donte Jones -- Sr. -- O. and D. line
    ¢ Carlos Pacheco -- Sr. -- O. and D. line

Perry-Lecompton Kaws

Mike Paramore: 5th year

2004 Record: 3-6

Synopsis: Perry-Lecompton lost to Tonganoxie, 21-7, in its season finale in 2004. The Kaws held a 3-3 record heading into district play, but fell to De Soto and Bonner Springs before ending the season against THS.

The Kaws have plenty of horses back from last year. Sophomores and juniors now are juniors and seniors and Perry-Lecompton could be a sleeper this season. Although the squad finished last year winless in district play, it could be a completely different story this fall.

The Kaws are going to be extremely big. And most coaches expect them to be much improved from last year. In 2004, they started seven sophomores at varsity.

Barring any major injuries, the Kaws could be a team to watch. They've got the ability to throw or run. They've got very big, tall and lanky receivers. In addition, the team has a solid quarterback, an exceptional fullback and three very good offensive linemen. Defensively, Perry's extremely scrappy. They have two pretty decent defensive ends and three very strong secondary people. They should be the front-runner on the small side of the conference with Bishop Ward.

Players to Watch:
¢ Sean Blosser -- Sr. -- Running back
¢ David Foltz -- Sr. -- Quarterback
¢ Chris Ketter -- Sr. -- Lineman
¢ Kenny Miller -- Sr. -- Lineman

Piper Pirates

Dick Tatro -- 5th year

2004 Record: 3-6

The Pirates didn't finish the 2004 season as well as they'd hoped as they won just three games and had their streak of two straight Class 4A state playoff appearances snapped.

The 2005 campaign could be even tougher because Piper will be rebuilding. It will try to replace quarterback Garrett Weddle and wide receiver Alex Angelotti. Weddle set numerous passing records at PHS, while Angelotti set school records for almost every receiving category.

The Pirates' No. 2 receiver last year, Chris Shannon, also graduated.

Despite losing a majority of their firepower, the Pirates expect to have a potent offense this fall. They return both running backs from last year, juniors Vince May and Kurtis Schweinfurth. Three starters on the offensive line also are back. Junior Beau Beashore will take over at quarterback and he'll have three new receivers to throw to.

Although there will be inexperience in the passing game, Piper coach Dick Tatro said he didn't plan to abandon the air attack.

"We'll still air it out, don't worry about that," Tatro said with a laugh.

Players to Watch:

  • Vince May -- Jr. -- Running back
    ¢ Kurtis Schweinfurth -- Jr. -- RB
    ¢ Mike Young -- Jr. -- O. line
    ¢ Steven Hargis -- Sr. -- LB, D. back
    ¢ Tony Schuberger -- Jr. -- Wide receiver

Immaculata Raiders

Steve Rieck -- 2nd year

2004 Record: 6-4

Synopsis: Although the Immaculata Raiders won six games in 2004, most of those victories came outside of league play. A similar scenario could play out this season because they must replace most of their top offensive and defensive weapons from a year ago.

Graduation hit the Raiders hard. All-KVL defensive end and wide receiver Danny McEvoy is the biggest loss, but also gone are all-league picks Chase Day (cornerback), Pat Goldack (defensive line) and Barrett Kaufman (linebacker). Quarterback Chris Garlick and wide receiver Tim Fitzgerald also are gone.

The key to Imac's success in 2005 will be successfully replacing those losses, but numbers are low so that could be a tough task for the young Raiders.

However, because the Raiders play in a tough league and primarily face 4A and 5A competition throughout the season, they could once again find themselves battle-tested by the time the 2A playoffs roll around.

Imac finished sixth in the KVL last year, but managed to win its district and advance to state. By all accounts, even with the uncertainty surrounding who will step up to fill the voids, the Raiders could be looking at another trip to state in 2005.

Players to Watch:

  • Nick Kaufman -- Jr. -- Offensive lineman
    ¢ Pat Goldak - Sr. - Offensive lineman
    ¢ Jeff Matzedar - Jr. - Linebacker

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