Coach: Dylan Schmidt, first season
League: AV-CTL IV
Last season: 8-2, lost in 4A I first round
Returning starters: 7
Offense: Wing T
Schedule: Sept. 1 at Andover Central; Sept. 8 at Labette County; Sept. 15 Mulvane; Sept 22 Wellington; Sept. 29 at Clearwater. Oct. 6 at Collegiate; Oct. 13 Buhler; Oct. 20 at Circle; Oct. 27 El Dorado.
Projected record: 7-2
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. With some uncertainty at many skill positions, Andale will build on the strength of its offensive line. Barbeau and the Fairchilds provide experience up front, while Bruce is a top receiving target. Junior Ethan Baalmann got playing time at quarterback last season, while sophomore Easton Hunter is also in the mix.
2. Bruce’s experience as a two-way player will help the Indians in the secondary. Grant Fairchild, an all-league defender last season, is a hybrid-type player who is effective at end or linebacker. Aside from a wild shootout with Mulvane, Andale held each of its opponents to 28 points or less a year ago.
3. Schmidt, an Andale alum, moves into a familiar situation as Gary O’Hair’s replacement. The Indians will replace many departed seniors with players who helped Andale’s junior varsity go 7-0 last season.
Five questions with coach Dylan Schmidt
1. What has the transition been like for you moving to the head coach role this offseason?
“I hope it reenergized some people. It’s obviously a great situation I’m taking over. Gary (O’Hair) did a tremendous job, so the kids know the expectations and here it’s a big community deal. Everyone is involved. We have so much support, so overall I feel great about the situation I’m stepping into. Being from Andale, you know the people and I think that’s made it easier to find the resources and those types of things. I’m super energized and I hope the kids are too. Gary gave us a great blueprint for what works. We’ll do some stuff differently, but it’s hard to go against what we’ve done over the years when all it’s been is successful. Wehn you see something that works like that, it’s hard to come in and try to change stuff.”
2. How is the offense looking this season?
“In the backfield, we’re going to have to replace everybody. The jury is still out there, but up front we’re going to be really strong. We have four returning starters with Hunter Barbeau and Grant Fairchild being studs up there. Mason Fairchild is a great blocker for us at tight end, and then we have Parker Bruce back as a playmaker at receiver. We have a nice mix of juniors and seniors and we’re going to plug some guys in there that has us excited about our backfield. There’s a lot of great kids waiting their turn and I think Jeremy Janzen is a great example of that. And then at quarterback, Ethan Baalmann played some for us last year, but Easton Hunter is going to battle and we’re going to see how that goes. We’ve got a lot of competition right now and that’s a good thing.”
3. What can we expect from the defense?
“We bring back Mason and Hunter on the line and then at linebacker, we lost most of our experience that guys that played a significant role for us. Steven May is a guy who got some playing time at that position and could have a big year. And then in the secondary we have Codi Urbanek back for us with some starting experience and Parker Bruce also back. We’re excited about our depth and we feel like we have a lot of guys who are ready to step up for us.”
4. What can we expect, if anything, that will be different under you at Andale?
“Honestly, it’s going to be a lot of the same stuff. There’s always going to be some different wrinkles that we’ll introduce and some different things we try to do, but most of the stuff we’re going to do is what we’ve been doing here for the last 15 years. Tim Fairchild is back and has been our defensive coordinator and he’ll run our defense for us and then I’m taking over the offense. That was my role with Gary, so that’s something I’m comfortable with.”
5. What has to happen for Andale to reach its potential this season?
“A lot of it is going to have to do with the new kids. The jury is still out on a lot of them just because they’re inexperienced. Like everybody, we’ll have to avoid injuries. Even with as much depth as we think we have up front, I think keeping everybody healthy is going to be huge. And then it’s going to come down to if these guys can step up and replace those seniros that did such a nice job for us last season.”