McPherson’s area schools have completed their first week of football practice, with a number of teams having to replace standout players.
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of what transpired through the first week.
• Canton-Galva — Numbers are an issue for the Eagles, who at full strength will have only 14 players, according to new coach Dustin Patee.
“The change going on is a tough process for players and coaches — the increase in hitting, running and changing of play calling,” Patee said. “The players are pushing hard to meet the standards put on by myself and my staff.”
Two players who have caught Patee’s eye are Travis Unruh and Brody Scott.
“Travis Unruh is really showing up with a great work ethic and has embraced the leadership position,” Patee said. “Brody Scott is really bringing a physical presence.”
• Hesston – Third-year coach Clint Rider is working with a squad of 40 as the Swathers are coming off an 18-3 record over the last two years, two of the losses coming in the playoffs.
Replacing quarterback Grant Raleigh is paramount, but Rider is pleased with heir apparent Zach Esau, who caught the passes last year instead of throwing them.
“Zach is making a good transition at the quarterback position and look for him to have a big year in the air and on the ground,” Rider said. “He has a great arm, understands the nuances of the offense and manages the game very well.”
Defensively, Zach Anderson has stepped to the front.
“Zach has been impressive for us so far as our middle linebacker,” Rider said. “He is playing physical football, filling gaps and has learned the position very quickly. Very excited as to what he can do this year.”
• Little River – Veteran coach Paul Dold graduated one of the bigger senior classes in recent memory.
“We have 22 players out with only four seniors,” said Dold, whose team was 7-4 last year and that included a playoff victory.
“Senior Clayton Bettenbrock has improved greatly from last year at a lineman on both sides of the ball,” Dold said. “Clay Zeller shows much promise at quarterback and defensive back. Our first week shows how young and inexperienced we are, the players are working hard, but we have a long way to go.”
• Moundridge — First-year coach Matt Cole, working with a squad of 29, said the positives have far outweighed the negatives after a week of practice.
“I was as pleased as any coach can be with the first week,” Cole said. “We had some great practices and we had some that we will use to learn from, but hope not to repeat. I was excited about our first team on both sides of the ball.”
Cole was particularly pleased with the line play.
“Our bigs up front look really good at this point and we expect them to continue to progress as we move forward and our skill guys are performing well,” Cole said.
The transition to a new system has been smooth, Cole said.
“The thing I am most pleased with is our work ethic and attitude,” Cole said. “We had to change the mentality here to one of belief and our kids have bought into that and are showing an amazing resolve to make Moundridge a program to deal with week in and week out.”
• Smoky Valley — First-year coach Tim Lambert has 47 candidates working daily.
The Vikings have four offensive starters back and five on the defensive side. He said it was still too early as to who has distinguished themselves, but most of the returning talent for the Vikings is in the lines and at linebacker.
• Inman — Teuton coach Edward Ramsey did not respond.