There are a lot of new things for the football team at South to enjoy.
The weight room, opened last year, is at least twice as big as the old one. The school’s gym also opened last year and it provides practice space for teams when the weather goes bad. Coach Kevin Steiner can plan with his assistants in a spacious meeting room, underneath a sign asking, “What legacy will you leave.”
All nice, all thanks to the bond issue of 2008. Steiner and his players enjoy the facilities. Now it’s time to put in the work, especially in the weight room.
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“Nice things are nice, but it doesn’t make you better unless you utilize it,” Steiner said. “It’s only new for so long. What we want to get them excited about is looking at results. I think we’ve got the people in place and the know-how and the energy to get kids in there and using it and using it properly.”
Lineman Jordan McPherson improved his squat by 90 pounds last year and South needs more results like his. Steiner can call on plenty of skill players. He needs size and depth on his lines.
“I’m pleased with the work I’ve seen,” Steiner said. “We struggled up front (last season). So even though many, many of them return … we’re only going to be as good as the growth and what we’ve done up front.”
McPherson, a junior, is back. Zack Grossnickle started on the line as a freshman. Center Brandon Enyart started as a freshman. Senior Blake Willson, Steiner said, is his most reliable figure in the weight room and his confidence and understanding of the game is growing.
“His confidence was shaken and he wouldn’t really know his assignment real well,” Steiner said. “Now he’s leading people.”
The weight room is an important part of that. So is staying consistent with his three-back offense and teaching the linemen their roles.
“We spent a lot of time trying to utilize this summer, driving those rules home and walking them through all the different defensive fronts that they can see and the blitzes,” Steiner said. “Teams were very aggressive in blitzing us last year and we struggled picking it up.”
The Titans, who lost their first seven games last season before beating Campus in district play, must replace quarterback Dominic Webb, who transferred to East. Junior Allen Bishop, who played quarterback on the junior varsity and defensive back on varsity, will take over and run South’s “diamond” offense along with several speedy returners. Running backs Traveon Wells, Jeremiah Hudspeth and Jaqwan Binkley all played varsity last season. Sophomore receiver Skylar Ryce led the Titans in touchdown catches last season.
“He knows how to run the team, make us listen,” Binkley said. “He can throw the ball deep and he knows how to run the ball and get us a first down.”
Steiner expects to have around 100 players, including freshmen, on his roster. Those numbers are up from past seasons. Steiner remembers taking 37 to a game against Carroll in his first season and counting 38 seniors on their roster. His freshmen team went unbeaten last season.
Steiner has his players in the hallways and on social media recruiting their friends to join the progress.
“We’ll call up friends we know and get them there, make sure we’ve got a good group,” Binkley said. “I’ve about five or six to come. I tell them to come out and be part of a team. We’re a special group and we’re planning on making changes and winning a lot of games.”
A LOOK AT WICHITA SOUTH
Coach: Kevin Steiner, third season, 2-16
League: City League
Last season: 1-8
Last five seasons: 12-35
Projected 2014 playoff team? No
TOP SKILL PLAYERS
|Sept. 12||at Heights|
|Oct. 3||at Hays|
|Oct. 17||West (at Heights)|
Allen Bishop on his team
What South does well: “I like how we’re young and fast. A lot of people underestimate us, and we’re going to surprise people.”
What has to improve: “I’m concerned about us being too young and inexperienced.”