Coach: Erik Dobbins, first season
League: City League
Last season: 1-8
Returning starters: 15
Schedule: Aug. 31, Kapaun Mount Carmel (at South); Sept. 8, at Dodge City; Sept. 15, North (at South); Sept. 21, at Heights; Sept. 29, East (at Northwest); Oct. 6, at Liberal; Oct. 13, at West (at South); Oct. 20, at Northwest.
Projected record: 2-6
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. Dobbins has implemented a motto called “Protecting the Herd” into this year’s team. This means that the team does whatever it can to stay positive, encourages teammates and shines a light that reflects well on the school.
2. The players need to own up to their mistakes on the field instead of pointing fingers at a teammate or a coach, Dobbins said. He said that defending negative behavior does not improve the chances of success and that complaining about the problem only allows it to grow. “If … all we do is teach or coach these young men just about football and no life skills, especially behavior, then we have failed these young men no matter what our record ends up being in November,” Dobbins said.
3. Southeast’s coaching staff preaches “Alignment Stance Key and Assignment” to its players, especially on defense. After giving up almost 42 points per game last season, Dobbins and the rest of his coaching staff are starting over and emphasizing the importance of fundamentals.
Five questions with coach Erik Dobbins
1. What was your emphasis this summer taking over at Southeast?
“It’s been a really fun summer. The kids are starting to buy in and we have a nice group of captains this season. I have had a lot of great assistants who have helped with the preparation of the team and leadership, which has made my life a little bit easier. I have a great assistant coaching staff and they have made the transition very smoothly. We’ve still got a lot of things to work on and we found that out in our first scrimmage. But we still had fun and it was a great start to our year. I’m definitely looking forward to this season.”
2. Who are some of the top players who have stood out to you this summer so far?
“Right now we have a couple of guys who we are really excited about. Brandon Payne is a senior caption and will play safety for us. He just has a really nice football IQ and awareness. He finds the football, no matter where he is on the field. He runs downfield and he’s not afraid of contact. Another standout for us has been Zaytez Dunn at receiver. He can get up and get the ball on the perimeter. And one more right now is Andrew Cooper. He’s a senior and will play outside linebacker for us and is just a great football player. We have a lot of kids we’re excited about, but those are some of the ones off the top of my head.”
3. How is the offense looking?
“We’re going to be fast. We’ve got a lot of fast underclassmen. We’ve got a lot of kids back on the line and I think we only lost one senior last year, so we’ll have four of them back. We’re going to try to run the ball, there’s no doubt about that. We’re going to try to control the clock and I’m really excited to see how these kids mold our offense into their own.”
4. How about the defense?
“Our defense is going to be what some people might call a kamikaze defense. You never know where we’re going to be coming from and we’re always looking to get 10 players to the ball. We’re going to be running around out there like our hair is on fire. We preach gang tackling more than solo tackling. We teach them the USA football tackling, which is a great piece of technique that we use. It’s increasing the safety of the game and we love that. We also communicate a lot on defense. If you come to one of our games this year, you’ll hear a lot of our athletes talking. We are very excited about what we can do on that side of the ball.”
5. What has to happen for Southeast to reach its potential this year?
“It’s going to be the culture. You hear that word thrown around a lot and I hate overusing that word, but culture is really what we’re looking for on and off the field. That’s going to be our X-Factor. A lot of people are overlooking us, which is fine. But I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year. We have a lot of athletes and a lot of fast athletes. We have Ollie McGee, who is one of the fastest kids in the state. Zaytez Dunn is another one. If he played Madden, he would probably have a hands rating of 98. I’ve never seen that kid drop a ball. So it’s going to come down to our kids taking the offense and defense and molding it to their own style of play.”