Wednesday, August 17, 2022

GRC 8-Man Football Preview

by Jeremy Benson,

Coaches' Pre-Season Poll

North Andrew's season last year was a difficult one.  They had multiple players out with injury.  But last year's struggles may pay dividends for them in 2022.  With many key players out, the younger players were able to gain some experience.  Now everyone is healthy and North Andrew is the coaches' pick to win the GRC 8-Man.

Here are the coaches' picks for the 2022 season for GRC 8-Man:

North Andrew
North Andrew finished 6-5 in 2021 including 2-3 in the GRC.  Owen Graham is the only graduating senior from last season.  The Cardinals will be led this season by Sophomore dual-threat Quarterback Braxon Linville, who threw for 940 yards last year, but his biggest threat is his legs.  As a freshman, Linville was able to run for 1,467 yards.  Those stats helped him earn first season all-conference at All-Purpose Back.  With Senior Running Back Hayden Ecker expected to be healthy from the start of the season, expect defenders to have a difficult time with the Cardinal rushing game.  Senior Andrew Goff will be at Fullback full-time after having to play lineman due to multiple injuries last year.  He rounds out an already talented back field.

North Andrew will welcome back several key players who missed all or the majority of last season to injuries.  Khizer Shunk and Gunner Lawrence were out the entire season and Jacob Chittum was out over half the year.  Each of them will be key to the Cardinal's success.  Shunk and Chittum will join Senior All-Conference lineman Aiden Miller to shore up what was a thin offensive line last season.

The defense will be led by Ecker, Chittum, and Goff, who all earned all-conference honors last year with Ecker being named to 1st team.

Coach Dwayne Williams said, "Our hope is to stay healthy this season and compete for a conference title.  We spent all of last season scrambling and moving players around due to injuries. We had several games where we only dressed out 12 players due to all of the injuries and started 3-4 freshmen several times as well. We are encouraged by the experience those young players gained and look forward to them contributing this season."

Coach Williams added that this has been the best summer they have had in the weight room and at camp.  The players have worked extremely hard to rehab their injuries and to get stronger.  He is hopeful that this will prevent them from missing playing time in the future.

Worth County
Last season, Worth County started the season as the 4th highest ranked GRC team in 8-Man.  They were not expected to win conference, much less make a deep run in the playoffs.  But the Tigers proved the experts wrong.  They finished 13-1, winning the GRC at 5-0 and finished second in State with their only loss being 48-42 to Drexel in the State Championship Game.

With the loss of six seniors, Worth County once again may be underestimated coming into the season.  Five of the six seniors earned first team all-conference last season with the remaining player earning second team.  Departing are Ayden Gladstone (1st-team QB/DB), Alex Rinehart (1st-team RB/LB), Jackson Runde (1st-team LB/2nd-team TE), Austin Pride (1st-team OL), Dawson Vore (1st-team DE) and Dylan Wilmes (2nd-team OL).

The task of repeating as conference champs now falls on returning players all-conference Defensive Lineman Jase Latham along with Levi Cassavaugh, Braxton Hightshoe, Dylan McIntyre, Creed Wilcox, and Tanner Ridge.  Others expected to contribute are Tyler New at quarterback, Elias Alacorn and Grant McIntyre.

Coach Jon Adwell said that "Kids are hungry. They feel like they some unfinished business to take care of."

Stanberry began last season ranked #1 in 8-man.  They maintained that ranking through the first 6 weeks in route to a 5-0 start.  However, the back half of the schedule including playoffs featured 4 games against teams that finished ranked in the top 5 of the final 8-man football polls.

The Bulldogs finished 6-4 in 2021 including 4-1 in the GRC.  They enter this season having to replace the Schwebach twins.  Austin threw for just under 900 yards as quarterback last season while also rushing for over 500 yards.  His brother Tyler led Stanberry with over 624 yards accounting for about 70% of the team's receiving yards.  Also graduating are Landon Marticke, Austin Colvin, Ethan Oldham and Ben Messner.

But the Bulldogs still have a lot of returning talent, especially at running back, where All-Conference Running Back Tucker Schieber and Grant Cameron will be lining up behind new quarterback Colby McQuinn.  Schieber will look to run for 1,000 yard for the third straight year as a junior.  Schieber also earned all-conference at punter and second team honors at DE/LB.  Lance Wallace returns after an all-conference performances at both offensive line and defensive end.  Other top newcomers include Cooper Adcock, who will play both offensive and defensive line, and Decker Hyde, starting at tight end and defensive back.

Coach Shane Hilton said that he expects the Bulldogs "to compete and be towards the top of the conference, with several new faces also to compete and improve quickly as the season progresses."

King City
King City is coming off their best season since returning to 8-man.  Their 2021 campaign ended with a State Semifinal appearance which saw them go 10-3 including 3-2 in the GRC.  The task for the Wildkats is to replace Parker Muff, Landon Wells, Sawyer McCallon and Corbin Taylor.  All four were all-conference last year with multiple players on offense and defense.

Despite the loss of four very talented seniors, King City returns a lot of experienced players with 17 seniors on this years team.  Top returning players include All-Conference players Ty Mooney, Chase Moss, and Landan Jackson plus Ron Pulliam, Dustin Walters and Jacob Boone.  They are joined by newcomers Zeke Fisher, Hunter Hass and Jacob Dierberger.

Coach Micah Breckenridge said, "We have some big shoes to replace but we have a strong senior class returning who are ready to play. I think we will be very competitive in the GRC and could be at the top if all of the pieces come together like we hope."

Albany finished the 2021 season with a record of 4-6 including 1-4 in the GRC.  They will start the 2022 campaign having to replace six seniors including Running Back Quincy Stamper who rushed for just under 700 yards.  Others in last year's senior class were Nate Doolittle, Jody King, Kirby Stevens, Ian Campbell, and Garrett Phillips.

But the Warriors were not left without any talent this season.  They return 5 experienced seniors including three that were 1st team all-conference.  Quarterback Kemper Cline earned 1st team at All-Purpose Back.  He rushed for over 1,000 yards and passed for over 500 yards last season.  Truman Runnels was 1st team at linebacker plus second team on the offensive line, and Zavien Dierenfeldt earned all-conference on special teams as 1st team kicker and 2nd team punter.  Rounding out the senior class are WR/DB Porter Davis and OL/DL Sam Miller.

Albany is expected to mix in their experienced players with a large number of newcomers who have had limited varsity playing time in the past.  Coach Doug Fountain said, "We return a measurable amount of varsity experience and feel good about a number of players stepping into varsity roles. As always, we want to be playing our best football in November."

Pattonsburg finished the 2021 season with a record of 3-7 including 0-5 in the GRC.  They return most of their team in 2022 losing only second-team all-conference QB Zane Reed.  Returning for the Panthers are All-Conference Wide Receivers Brody Langfitt (1st team) and Sam Coin (2nd team).  Both Langfitt and Coin eclipsed the 500-yard mark in receiving yards last season.  Langfitt is also a dual-threat in the back field where he ran for 436 yards.

Other key returners Gage Iddings and Kaden Locker will be joined by Tyson Gibson who will be returning after not playing his junior year.

New Pattonsburg coach Brandon Burkhead said that his goals for this year are "putting Pattonsburg back on the map, and getting back to the Panther way." 

St. Joseph Christian
St. Joseph Christian finished 0-10 in 2021.  They will be playing conference games this year after a 3-year absence which included a two-year stint at 11-man.  The Lions have fallen on hard times lately and will enter the season on a 25-game losing streak.  

The Lions will be a little more experienced than last season, but will still be young again this year.  Caleb Carlson was the lone senior to graduate from last season, but they return several players that had quality playing time a season ago.  Senior Jacob Clabaugh will start at QB.  Other returnees Cy Carlson, Levi Miller, Logan Hubble, Adam Dean, Jaren Padgett and Judson Smith will be joined by newcomers Kellen Dunn, Conner Wagers, Jonah Elderhorst, Grayson Strueby, Vail Fruechting, Shaden Morris and Aiden Martindell.

Coach Troy Schenk said that he expects improvement from 2021.

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