Grab your stadium seats folks, the high school football season is here! Two weeks from right now, area high schools kick off the 2016, season. Practices are already underway with two-a-days nearly out of the way.
For area teams there are a lot of questions. Can Great Bend repeat last years’ surprising run to the playoffs? Can they match, or beat, the 7-3 2015, record? A lot of talent returns but there are plenty of unknowns. A new coach, Erin Beck, takes command and the Black Panthers have new district opponents this year. Gone are the Salina schools and Newton, replaced by the new playoff system. Every game counts. A new opponent, Coffeyville, opens the season and the Black Panthers need to get off to a good start.
At Larned, coach A.B. Stokes and his players have been disappointed with a pair of 4-5 seasons in the past two years and an off-season dedication to the weight room has made the Indians bigger and faster. The Tribe will put a lot of size on the football field but there are questions as to who will fill some of the skill positions from a solid graduating class. The Indians move down to 3A competition in the playoffs in 2016 but that doesn’t make things easy. Can the Indians overcome a very tough schedule to improve that 4-5 record of last year? Their schedule is blanketed with playoff teams.
In Hoisington the only question is “how far will the Cardinals go in the playoffs?” With seven returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Cardinals are loaded for another deep playoff run. 11-1 last year, can coach Zach Baird (20-3) coax more out of this team? District 15 opponents Lyons, Ellsworth and Larned will try to slow this runaway bird train!
For the first time in ten years Ellinwood had a winning football record in 2015. The Eagles have taken to 8-Man competition well. Coach Jason Duvall has got Ellinwood fans and players thinking playoffs this year for the first time in years. Only three starters return so success will be keyed by how quick coach Duvall can get his younger players to step into starting roles.
At Central Plains the Oilers graduated a boatload of offensive talent. Coach Chris Steiner will earn his money in early practices this season getting newcomers in the right places to contribute. The Oilers probably have more questions than any area team but we’ve become so accustomed to seeing this school have football success that is hard to imagine it not happening again. Four starters return and depth will be a problem but look for the Oilers to be in the playoffs again.
Lots of questions. The answers are just a couple of weeks away!
The Men’s Olympic basketball team hasn’t exactly impressed the world with their play. I think they play with the “NBA Syndrome”: When things get tough they resort to one guy dribbling and going one-on-one while the shot clock expires instead of playing team basketball. Works in the NBA but it doesn’t necessarily relate to international play.
Former Houston head coach and current assistant at Kansas State, Dana Dimel, doesn’t want to see Houston in the Big 12. He said, “It would be bad for everybody. If they get in the Big 12 they will be tough to beat in recruiting.” In other words, he doesn’t want to recruit against them. Perhaps he would prefer...maybe Fort Hays State?
Olympic Boxing returned to its’ ugly self in the heavyweight championship match. The judging in boxing can be horrendous, even crooked, and it happened again. As the favorite, Evgeny Tischenko, was pummeled for three rounds by Vassiliy Levit but still awarded the victory. The International Boxing Association says they will “evaluate their judging.” It’s enough to make you cringe!
Coach John Heisman, of Heisman Trophy fame, once told his team, “Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football.”
Charles Tabler is a contributing writer from Larned. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.