Kapaun Mount Carmel’s football team featured a chameleon-like quality in 2013.
The Crusaders won their first five games largely with defense, holding opponents to an average of 7.4 points.
By the end of the regular season and into the Class 5A playoffs, Kapaun’s offense was churning out video-game numbers. The Crusaders’ final three victories were 40-35, 55-40 and 44-42 shootouts.
It all produced Kapaun’s first trip to the state semifinals since 1990 and a 10-2 season that ended with a loss to eventual 5A runner-up Salina South. The byproducts for Kapaun coach Dan Adelhardt’s returning players heading into 2014 are a wealth of big-game experience and adaptability.
“Our style of play at the beginning, we weren’t planning on putting up 50 points to win games,” senior offensive tackle Mickey Boulanger said. “We ran it up the middle and played football like Kapaun used to. The defense did a phenomenal job.
“As the season went on, we played better teams that could score more points. Our offense had to adjust to that.”
Kapaun proved mostly capable, splitting a balanced rushing attack among backs Devin Dempsey, Ethan Harp and Alexander Norris, and quarterback Brock Monty. Monty also had talented receiving targets in Jack McGrath and Ross Puritty.
With most of that group lost to graduation, much of the offensive burden will shift to Monty and Norris, both juniors. Monty passed for 1,254 yards and ran for 613, while Norris ran for 601.
“I’ve told Brock he’s going to have to carry a little more of the load,” Adelhardt said. “He’s a real student of the game. He’s humble and works hard. He takes it seriously and has good ideas. Above all, he’s got talent, and he’s got some wheels.”
The Crusaders may not have a bruising runner like Harp, who ran for a team-high 711 yards last season. But Norris, at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, has impressed teammates with his toughness.
“He gets in the weight room and he works,” Boulanger said. “Last year, he showed a lot of durability. He took a lot of big hits and popped right back up.”
Defensively, Kapaun returns three starters who played the majority of last season. The Crusaders are also eager to welcome back defensive tackle Colton Ocker, an imposing, 280-pound senior who sustained a season-ending knee injury in the first month last season.
“We had a team that believed last season,” Adelhardt said. “In the Salina Central (playoff) game, we got down two scores and could have folded and said, ‘Hey, we had a nice run.’ But we didn’t.
“That’s what I hope this year’s team can take from that one.”
A LOOK AT KAPAUN
Coach: Dan Adelhardt, ninth season, 57-36
League: City League
Last season: 10-2, lost in semifinals of 5A playoffs
Last five seasons: 35-17
Projected 2014 playoff team? No
TOP SKILL PLAYERS
|Sept. 5||East (at WSU)|
|Sept. 11||at Northwest|
|Sept. 19||Carroll (at WSU)|
|Sept. 26||West (at Heights)|
|Oct. 3||Southeast (at South)|
|Oct. 10||North (at WSU)|
|Oct. 17||at Emporia|
|Oct. 24||Andover (at WSU)|
|Oct. 30||at Heights|
Mickey Boulanger on his team
What Kapaun does well: “I think with what we have returning in the backfield, an experienced quarterback and our big wideouts, our offense should be very good.”
What has to improve: “We had a lot of seniors last year, one of the best classes to come through here in a long time. It’s all about adjusting and I’m confident our underclassmen will step up and meet that challenge.”