A preview of the area football teams for the 2018 season by Betsy Barnett and John Contreras.
By Betsy Barnett
Coach: Trey Eder, 3rd year.
Last year’s record: 3-2 in Southern Conference and 4-5 overall; Lost in 1st Playoff Round vs Peetz.
Key returning players: Angel Medina, 190 lbs junior, linebacker; Aiden Michael, 160 lb. sophomore, running back/kicker; Zack Fowler, 185 lbs., sophomore, full back.
Team outlook: Eads has no seniors on the team and only two returning starters. The team has 3 juniors, and the bulk of the team consists of freshmen (6) and sophomores (5).
“We are young and lacking experience as even our juniors only have one year of playing time. Although young, these boys are very competitive and have the will to win.”
“Practices have been very good and competitive as they are all trying to win a spot in the starting lineup. We have some boys playing in positions that they have never played and maybe never thought they would play, but what a coachable group of young men. They are willing to learn whatever it takes to put our team in the best position possible to be successful.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing what this group is able to do and I think we will surprise some people, especially considering how young and inexperienced we are.”
The Eagles will travel to Manzanola for their first game on Friday, Aug. 31. They then begin important conference play hosting Granada on September 7th and then Kit Carson on September 14th.
(kneeling) Angel Medina, Zack Fowler, Hatch Nelson, Donte Sierra, Dillon Hernandez, Will Crow
(standing) Taite Johnson, Aiden Micheal, Ben Splitter, Ty Wilson, Chase Stolzenberger
Not pictured: Cade McDowell, Bradley Musgrave, Damian Barnes
By John Contreras
Coach: Junior Gonzales, 1st year.
Last year’s record: 2-3 Southeast 8-man League and 2-7 overall.
Last state playoff appearance: 2016.
Key returning players:
Josh Baca, 5-8, 155 RB/DE (Rushed for 677 yards and 4 TDs last season); Devon Jara, 5-9, 225 RB/LB (Completed 44 passes for 718 yards and 10 TDs. Rushed for 285 yards and 7 TDs). (All-State honorable-mention); Stefan McGee, 5-8, 120 E/Safety; Victor Zubia, 5-8, 120 E/DB; Derick Gallegos, 5-7, 185 E/LB
Miguel Vega, 5-8, 130 E/DE; Andre Aguilar, 5-8, 230 Center
Caleb Dorenkamp, 6-1, 220 E/LB
Team outlook: Granada football fans will have to get accustomed to a new brand of football this season. The Bobcats will move from 8-man to 6-man this season under new head coach Junior Gonzales. He takes over the reins from his father Manuel who will still be on the sideline as an assistant coach along with John Hopper. Junior is no stranger to 6-man football. He started his coaching career as the 6-man head coach at Plainview from 1994-1997. He also was the 8-man head coach at Holly for several years.
“It’s going to be a change here in Granada but it’s still about fundamentals and the schemes are a little bit different,” he said. “We’ve got to make the transition as easy as possible and eliminate mistakes on the field.”
“It’s still football and our kids are excited,” he added. “It’s going to be unchartered territory for the 15 kids that we have out. We’ve got a good group of seniors and lean on them for leadership. It’s going to take all 15 kids to be successful.”
The 6-man Southeast League will include Granada, Kit Carson, Eads, Cheyenne Wells, Walsh, and Cheraw.
In the preseason state ranking by CHSAANow.com, Kit Carson is No. 2 and Cheyenne Well is No. 6. The No. 1 ranked team is Stratton/Liberty.
Granada kicks off the 2018 campaign with a home contest against Idalia on Friday, Aug. 31 against Idalia at 7 p.m.
Granada High School Football Team
Back Row l to r: Stefan McGee, Devon Jara, Caleb Dorenkamp, Dominic Marquez-Coleman, Jonathan Rink, Miguel Vega, Jett Harmon
Front Row l to r: Angel Vega, Derick Gallegos, Victor Zubia, Joshua Baca, Andres Aguilar
By John Contreras
Coach: Dayne Eaton, 5th year.
Last year’s record: 4-1 in Southeast 8-man League and 9-2 overall.
Last state playoff appearance: 2017. Won over Haxtun, 32-16, in 1st round of the 8-man state playoffs; won over Caliche, 47-26, in the quarterfinals; lost to eventual state champion Sedgwick County, 41-8.
Key returning players:
Seniors: Kobe Davis, 6-2, 185 QB/DE. (Led the 8-man ranks in passing last season as he completed 100 of 173 attempts for 1, 173 yards with 20 TDs); Gustavo Dominguez, 6-1, 170 E/Safety. (Had 38 catches for 766 yards and 8 TDs in 2017. (First team All-State); Erick Chaparro, 5-10, 160 RB/MLB. (Rushed for 500 yards and 7 TDS. Registered 82 tackles (29 solo). (All-State second team); William Kennedy, 6-0, 180 E/LB. (Had 25 catches for 370 yards and 7 TDS in 2017); Jarrett Rushton, 6-3, 170 End. (Had 14 catches for 195 yards and 5 TDs in 2017); Brendyn Nordyke, 5-5, 140 RB/G/LB. (Registered 84 tackles (18 solo); Andy Ramos, 5-9, 190 FB/MLB; Michael Rushton, 6-0, 150 E/LB/CB.
Juniors: Grayden Flint, 6-1, 175 G/C
Freshman: Jonathan Rosales, 5-10, 200 G/C.
Team outlook: The Wildcats are coming off their best season since 1962 and with a nucleus of seniors on the roster, Coach Eaton has high expectations.
“With all of the skill players that we have coming back, we have the possibility of being better than we were last year,” said Eaton.
On offensive, the Wildcats will feature one of the top passing combinations in the 8-man ranks behind the dynamic duo of Davis and Dominguez. Kennedy also is a threat in the passing game.
Eaton hopes to balance their attack with the running game with the likes of Chaparro, Ramos, and Nordyke.
“If we can solidify our line, our offense should be right on track from where we were last year,” Eaton said.
On the defensive side of the ball, Eaton said, “We have six returnees which is pretty good. We should be pretty solid.”
The Wildcats will see some changes with the realignment of some leagues.
The Arkansas Valley League will include Holly, Springfield, McClave, Wiley, and Las Animas along with newcomers Fowler and Hoehne.
McClave, Fowler, and Hoehne were state playoff teams last year.
Eaton noted that Holly’s schedule will include four teams that are ranked in the top 10 preseason rankings by CHSAANow.com.
Hoehne is ranked No. 4, Holly is ranked No. 5, Fowler is ranked No. 7, and Dayspring Christian is ranked No. 9.
The Wildcats will kick off the season on the road at Dayspring Christian in Greeley on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 12 noon.
“We will have our work cut out for us,” said Eaton.
KIT CARSON WILDCATS
By Betsy Barnett
Coach: Curt Connelley, 2nd year.
Last year’s record: 4-1 South Conference; 9-2 overall. Lost in State Semifinals to Peetz.
Key returning players: TJ Conaway (5’10; 153 lbs), senior QB/LB/K, 537 yards passing, 104 tackles; Chris Bryan (5’9; 157 lbs), senior RB/DB, 347 yards rushing, 189 yards receiving; Cordell Farmer (5’7, 139 lbs), junior E/DE; Jayden McCombs-Farmer (5’6, 140 lbs), junior RB/DE, 899 yards rushing, 246 yards receiving, 1396 all-purpose yards; Joe Bryan (5’8, 132 lbs), junior RB/LB, 736 all-purpose yards.
Team outlook: With the loss of a key lineman, William Hornung to graduation, the Wildcats are going to lack size from a year ago.
“What we lack in size we will make up with our speed and quickness and athleticism.”
“Our conference will be competitive like always even though our teams are low on numbers.”
The Wildcats begin their 2018 campaign at home when they welcome La Veta on Friday, August 31 at 7:00 pm. They will head south to Eads to their first conference game on September 14.
KIT CARSON WILDCATS:
(kneeling) Chris Bryan, Brayden Bogenhagen, Sullivan Farmer, Daniel Arnold, Joe Bryan
(back) Jayden McCombs-Farmer, Brock Weiand, Peter Hornung, TJ Conaway, Brett Mayhan, Cordell Farmer.
Not Pictured: David Arnold
By John Contreras
Coach: Jeremy Mallard, 4th year.
Last year’s record: 3-2 in league play and 6-4 overall.
Last state playoff appearance: 2017. The Cardinals lost in the first round 49-0 to eventual state champion Sedgwick County.
Key returning players: Cal Garcia, 5-11, 135 sr., QB/S; Dakota Canfield, 5-11, 160 sr., RB/MLB; Maverick Leighty, 5-11, 155 jr., RB/LB; Aldon Sniff, 6-1, 220 jr., C/DT; Jonathan Burbank, 5-9, 160 sr., OL/MLB; Dawson Roesch, 5-10, 190 sr., RB/OL, DE; JJ Juarez, 6-0, 170 sr., E/LB; Carl McKenzie, 5-11, 180 sr., E/DE
Team outlook: For the second year in a row, the Cardinals got a tough draw as they faced Sedgwick County in the first round of the 8-man state playoffs and made an early exit. Sedgwick County, meanwhile, won the state championship for the third straight year in a row.
Coach Mallard hopes it will be a different outcome if his Cardinals make it back to the playoffs.
“Hopefully, if we can take care of business we could end up playing somebody else in the playoffs,” Mallard said.
The Cardinals return a host of starters but will have to find some players to pick up the slack on both sides of the ball after losing to vital seniors from last year.
“We’ve got a lot of experience coming back with our seniors,” said Mallard. “But we also have some young kids that are going to be expected to step in. We don’t have a lot of depth with only 15. So, staying healthy is going to play a big key to our season.”
With a league realignment, McClave, Holly, Springfield, Las Animas, and Wiley will see the addition of Fowler and Hoehne to the Arkansas Valley League.
“It’s going to be brutal,” said Mallard.
McClave kicks off the season with a game at Sanford on Friday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.
(kneeling) Rylan Herrera, AJ Wilk, Ralphie Enciso, Ramon Salas, Jonathan Burbank, Cal Garcia, Chris Torres
(standing) Dawson Roesch, Adrian Longoria, Quade Malone, Carl McKenzie, Aldon Sniff, Dakota Canfield, JJ Juarez, Maveric Leighty
By John Contrares
Coach: Tand Bitner, 2nd year.
Last year’s record: 1-4 in Southeast League and 2-7 overall.
Last state playoff appearance: 2015.
Key returning players: Garrett Tyree, 6-2, 175 sr., QB/LB; Jayce Bauer, 6-2, 245 sr., FB/C/NG; Shawn Bundy, 5-9, 200 sr., FB; Cade Zordel, 5-8, 160 soph., TB/LB; Blake Wilson, 6-2, 145 sr.,E/DB; Cade Pankey, 6-5, 185 soph., E/DE; Colton Mauch, 6-4, 225 sr., E; Devon Miller, 5-11, 215 sr., G; Sam Wollert, 5-7, 165 sr., G; Skyler Phillips, jr., C/G/NG.Team
Season outlook: “We’ve got to be able to stop big plays and that killed us last season,” said Coach Bitner. “There were several games that we were in but then we would give up some big plays. We’ve got to improve on defense and on offense.”
Last season, the Panthers scored 150 points and allowed 344.
With the roster dominated with seniors, Bitner hopes this is the year this team can turn it around.
“We will be a veteran team with eight seniors,” he said. “I hope we count on our experience to carry us through.”
Heading into his second year at the helm, Bitner said that last year was a learning experience for him.
“I learned a lot taking over as the head coach after serving as an assistant here the past several years,” he said. “I think we have the guys to get us back on track and get that winning mentality back.”
Things got tougher with the addition of several teams to the new Arkansas Valley League.
The league will include Holly, Springfield, McClave, Wiley, and Las Animas along with newcomers Fowler and Hoehne.
Holly, McClave, Fowler, and Hoehne were state playoff teams last year.
“It’s going to be a tough league to make the playoffs,” Bitner said. “You have to be ready to bring it every game.”
Wiley will open the season with a road game at Boise City, Ok. On Friday, Aug. 24 at 6 p.m. The Panthers will then host Swink on Friday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m.
2018 Wiley High School Football
Back row: Devon Miller-Stone, Blake Wilson, Sam Wollert, Shawn Bundy, Colton Mauch, Garrett Tyree, Steven Ramos
Middle Row: Brinden Williams, Cameron Grogan, Hunter Callison, Cade Pankey, Tyler Reifschneider, Skylar Phillips, Tucker Hobden
Front Row: Cade Zordel, Jayce Bauer, Tate Krentz