A week of practice is in the books for the McPherson area football teams.
Here’s an update of what the coaches think so far.
• Canton Galva — Third-year coach Jeff Savage says keeping everybody healthy is going to be paramount.
“We have 24 kids out with very little size,” said Savage, whose team was 5-4 last year. “So far we have been injury-free and it needs to stay that way. We have had more than our share the last two seasons.”
Savage has tabbed Travis Unruh as the operator of his intricate offense to replace the graduated Cody Savage.
“Travis Unruh is throwing the ball very well and looked good at the team camp at Fort Hays this summer,” Savage said. “Ethan Loyd also looked good at receiver at Fort Hays.”
Trey Moddelmog and Austin Morgan have emerged as the Eagles’ running backs. However, Savage is concerned about who is going to open the holes, as C-G graduated a very good offensive line.
• Little River — The Redskins, coming off a 4-5 season, are ahead of the learning curve, thanks to the presence of a nice-sized senior class.
“The first week has gone well in terms of practice organization and getting schemes installed as we have a large senior class that is very willing to assume the leadership role,” Little River coach Paul Dold said. “It is too early to tell if we are going to be willing to be as physical as we need to be and we have much individual technique work yet to do.”
The Redskins basically return the same cast as they had only one senior last year.
“We have not made any definite position decisions yet and could see some movement before the first game,” Dold said. “The heat has been a factor and the players really wore down late in the week adjusting to being in school all day plus football practice in the heat.”
• Hesston — Clint Rider is more comfortable as he begins his second year as Hesston coach. His first year was nothing short of spectacular with a league championship, playoff berth and 8-2 record.
“We had a good first week of practice,” Rider said. “Our guys are learning how to practice and had one of the most consistent week of two-a-days that I have been around. We have the opportunity to do great things if we seek to continually improve each day, both individually and collectively.”
Few teams will have as much experience in the trenches as the Swathers.
“Our offensive and defensive lines have looked really good so far and have a lot of cohesion,” said Rider, who welcomes back most of his regulars.
The Swathers are going to be especially strong at receiver and defensive back, where they return virtually intact.
So far, Rider said his players have adapted well to the heat.
“Our players haven't complained at all and it has shown in their practice performance,” Rider said. “I've been impressed with their toughness and I think it sets us up well for early season games.”
• Inman — "Getting to know you" could be the theme of the first week of Inman football practice.
"The first week went fine," said new Teuton coach Ed Ramsey, who inherits a team that has recorded back-to-back 6-3 seasons. "I'm getting more familiar with the team. The heat has been hard on the kids and coaches, ready for a cool down. I'm concerned a little about conditioning, but other than that the young men are getting used to me and also the new schemes we are running."
Ramsey reports that he's working with a squad of 30. There will be a lot of new starters, as the Teutons have only four returning starters on both sides of the ball.
• Moundridge — No team probably needs to stay healthy more than the Wildcats, who are coming off a 3-6 season.
“Depth will be a major concern as most of our backups will be freshmen this year,” Moundridge coach Courtney Moddelmog said. “We have had to move some kids to different positions due to injuries and kids not playing this year.”
All in all, Moddelmog gave a thumbs-up to his team for its first week.
“The kids have worked hard this week, but we have a long way to go as a team,” he said. “We need to do a better job of locking in and learning our responsibilities.”
• Smoky Valley — Smoky Valley coach Chris Hattabaugh raved about his team’s attitude during the first week.
“We have had a ton of energy and excitement,” Hattabaugh said. “Our 16 seniors are doing a good job leading our younger players.”
The Vikings are coming off a 7-2 season, though they were denied a playoff berth because of a powerhouse district that included McPherson. Now they are in Class 4A Division II where the playing field is more level in terms of enrollment.
Games often are won or lost at the line of scrimmage and Hattabaugh likes what he sees so far from those up front.
“Our offensive line is doing a nice job,” he said. “Four of those five have Friday night experience. They are really impressive thus far. We have some freshmen that have been really impressive this first week. This group of freshmen have good size and speed. They did not lose a game in middle school so they are very confident.”
The Vikings are breaking in Cole Norberg at quarterback as he takes over for Christian Hansen and Ethan Loder. Hansen was the starter at the beginning of the year before Loder returned from an injury.
“He is very athletic and is going to have a good year,” Hattabaugh said.
Smoky Valley is without standout Jared DeMott, out with a torn ACL. Line mainstay Brix Brickey has been slowed with an injured foot.