Coach: Jason Filbeck, fourth season, 18-12
League: AV-CTL III
Last season: 6-4, lost in 4A I first round
Returning starters: 11
Offense: Spread Bone
Schedule: Sept. 1, Winfield; Sept. 8, at Clearwater; Sept. 15, at Circle; Sept. 22, McPherson; Sept. 29, at Chanute; Oct. 6, Buhler; Oct. 13, at Maize South; Oct. 20, Andover Central; Oct. 27, at Rose Hill.
Projected record: 6-3
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. This will be Filbeck’s first class of seniors to go all four years with him. He has pieced together three straight non-losing seasons, but hopes this will be his best yet. “The program needs to really take that next step and make a run in the playoffs now,” Filbeck said.
2. The schedule will test the Orioles, as they have dates with 4A powers McPherson, Buhler and Maize South. How the team fares in those games will decide how successful Augusta is during the regular season. “We play in possibly the toughest league in 4A, so we should definitely be battle-tested by the end of the season,” Filbeck said.
3. The top-end talent at Augusta is the best it has been in Filbeck’s time. Whitehead is a returning starter at quarterback with Anderson back as his main target, while Davis and Honey are expected to anchor a stingy defense. “We feel like if we can stay healthy, then this could be the best year we have ever had,” Filbeck said.
Five questions with coach Jason Filbeck
1. What has been the focus this season for Augusta?
“We’ve kind of been stuck in the same spot, as far as how we’ve finished the season goes. We make it to the playoffs, but we never win. We’ve been one-and-done all three years I’ve been here. So what we’re doing is good and we’re headed in the right direction, but it’s obviously not enough to get to where we want to get to. Our seniors have really led the charge this offseason. We might not have the big-name star like we had last year, but I love this senior group. This is my first four-year group. This group of kids have played together for a long time and they’re a tight class. They’ve bought into the whole process and they’re ready to take that next step.”
2. How nice is it to have a multi-year starter coming back for his senior year at quarterback?
“We’ve got a big playmaker back in our quarterback, Chance Whitehead. He was thrown into the fire as a sophomore and then started for us as a junior. He looks really good right now. He’s going to be a weapon for us throwing it and running it and to have that kind of leadership of being able to run the show. We know what to expect from him.”
3. How is the rest of the offense looking?
“We lost some big names, but I think we might be even better this season as a team with our balance. The kids seem to play together better and they’ve formed a really tight-knit class. We’re going to lean on that chemistry as a unit, instead of just giving the ball to one kid and letting him go to work. We’re going to have Clay Wesbrooks at receiver and then Jacob Swink is a senior who has really come on and had an amazing summer. We’re going to bring over Ceetyn Anderson and he’s going to play some slot. We’re looking pretty good in our 7-on-7 stuff and we’re excited about the possibilities.”
4. What about the defense?
“Our defense brings back eight, so we feel really excited about what our defense can do this season. We’ve always put our best kids on the defense first and then figure out the rest on offense. We try to platoon as much as possible. We’ve pretty much been a full platoon, but this year we’ll have to have a couple of the big guys come over and play on the offensive line. We have our whole secondary back and Coban Honey is going to be a stud for us. Up front we have Kendall Davis and Jonny Clausing and Ryan Rogers. We’ve got some nice pieces on defense that will make it hard for people to move the ball against us.”
5. So what’s it going to take for Augusta to get over the hump?
“Honestly, I don’t know if there’s one X-Factor or one magic thing that has to happen. We know exactly who our road blocks are. Our league is really tough with Buhler, Maize South, and McPherson. We just want to be healthy when we’re going through all of that if we’re going to be able to beat those teams. We played competitively against those teams last year, but we’re going to have to be more disciplined and not make the mistakes that has plagued us in the past few years. We’ve just completely fallen apart and fumbled the ball and committed stupid penalties and silly turnovers just killed us. Discipline is the biggest thing that I think could set us apart.”