Coach: Logan Clothier, first season
League: AV-CTL III
Last season: 1-8
Returning starters: 11
Schedule: Sept. 1, Maize South; Sept. 8, at Winfield; Sept. 15, Augusta; Sept. 22, at Coffeyville; Sept. 29, McPherson; Oct. 6, Andover Central; Oct. 13, at El Dorado; Oct. 20, Andale; Oct. 26, at Buhler.
Projected record: 0-9
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. Clothier comes from successful programs at Topeka High and Emporia State. He likens Circle’s situation to what he went through in high school when Topeka High made its turnaround. “You look at Topeka High now and they’re one of the best 6A teams in the state every year,” he said. “I was there when things were set and seeing how things were done the right way, and it’s fun to look at them now and remember we were there to help set that foundation.”
2. Translating the hard work of the summer sessions to the regular season. Clothier said his players have been eager to buy in during the work on fundamentals this summer, and he’s ready to see that effort pay off on the field. “We will compete on every single play,” he said.
3. Whether the new balanced offense can be successful. Clothier said the focus of the offense will depend on the talent. “When you’ve got kids one year who can throw the ball, you’re going to throw it,” he said, “and when you’ve got kids who can run the ball, you’re going to run it.” Coulter, at quarterback, and Lies, at wide receiver, were all-league honorable mention last season.
Five questions with coach Logan Clothier
1. What has been the biggest adjustment for you in your first year of head coach?
“There is a difference from being an assistant coach where you’re just coaching your position and you’re only focused on those guys. As a head coach, obviously your responsibility goes up and you’ve got to understand that you have to be worried about every position and every kid. The kids have done a great job and been very positive and my assistants have done a great job helping me out as well. Another big thing is staying on top of the little things and making sure I have the practice scripts ready and making sure to delegate things to my assistants. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
2. What’s the offense going to look like this year?
“We’re going to try to be as balanced as possible. Offensively, we’re trying to put our kids in the situation to be as successful as they can be. One thing I learned from coach (Walt) Alexander when I was at Topeka was to do things the right way. Their football program has had a lot of success and I think it starts in their weight room. So I’m trying to take what coach Alexander built at Topeka and then bring it down here to Circle. I’ve been apart of two great programs at Topeka and then at Emporia State. I’ve seen it as a player and I’ve learned from two great coaches, so I know what it takes and I’ve seen it first-hand. There is no player that is more important than the team. It’s going to take time, but we’re going to expect a lot of our kids and hold them to high expectations on the field and in the classroom. We want to do things the right way.”
3. Can you give us a run-down of the defense?
“Defensively, we’re going to try to put them in situations where they’re not having to overthink things. When you watch the most successful defenses, they are the ones that are flying around, having fun, and getting 11 guys to the football. They’re not relying on one guy to make the tackle. If the first guy misses, then they’re getting 10 others to the football and getting after it. Being from Topeka, coach Alexander runs a great defense up there and we’re going to try to carry that over and then put a spin on how we want to do things with the kids that we have. We want to play physical.”
4. Who are some kids that we can expect to hear from this year?
“I think we’ve had our junior and senior class lead the way so far this offseason and they’ve really bought into the culture we’re trying to build here at Circle. Some names would be Lane Coulter, Hunter Lies, Corbin Ingram, Lucas Scott, Jackson Faulkner, and J.D. Fox. Those kids have been in the weight room almost every single day and haven’t missed a day. They’ve really bought in and they’re so much stronger now. They’re starting to become more vocal and lead by example. You want guys like that who will lead by example and guys that are going to be about it.”
5. What’s it going to take this season for Circle to achieve its potential?
“For our kids, it’s going to come down to keeping the trust in us as coaches and trusting the process and buying into what we’re trying to instill in them. It’s going to take time, but we’re going to keep playing hard and bring great attitude and effort. We want to control the things that we can control. If we do that and keep showing up in practice, then we’re going to get better and all of those other things are going to take care of themselves. It just takes time to turn things around. It’s a culture thing. It’s doing the little things the right way. We’ve worked on fundamentals this summer and we’ve gotten so much better from June 1 to now. I keep telling the kids to think about how much better we’ll be in November. If we do all of those little things, then we’ll get what we want to get out of this season.”