If the first week of practice is any indication, the Hesston High football team is going to continue its recent success.
The Swathers have won 26 of 31 games played since Clint Rider took over as head coach and he came away from the initial week with a positive vibe.
“Defensively we have picked up right where we left off,” Rider said, noting his team gave up just 8.6 points a game last year to rank No. 2 in points allowed in Class 3A. “Our seniors are doing an outstanding job, but that is not surprising to us.”
Some young players, though, are going to make their presence known, Rider said.
“Sophomore Parker Roth showed great vision and physicality both at the linebacker and running back positions,” Rider said when assessing the first week. “Sophomore Tyler Mason looked impressive during our scrimmage on offense at left tackle. He has a high ceiling. Sophomore Cameron Cox will be a new name to look for as a dynamic playmaker. Great speed and has a high football IQ.”
The Swathers have put up huge numbers during Rider’s tenure, but many of those unsung players who paved the way up front have graduated.
“Our offensive line will be basically a whole new crew,” he said. “The communication and teamwork required in that unit is beyond any other on the football field. That maturation will be a key element in our success early on and into the postseason. The same concerns arise on the defensive side of the ball. Graduating all four defensive lineman, it is imperative that we have players step up to fill those roles.”
All-in-all, Rider said it’s been very business-like as the Swather players realize they have a tradition to uphold.
“So far this team has shown great maturity,” he said. “They possess great focus and work to develop great relationships within their position units. If we can have steadfast leadership throughout the season, I like the opportunities for this team to great things. They love being around one another. They love the game and that combination is potent.”
Hesston opens the season Sept. 2 at Garden Plain.