A weekly question-and-answer session during the summer with an area high school coach.
Today: Rose Hill football coach Greg Slade
Rose Hill finished its season 10-2 after losing to Buhler in the playoffs two-wins away from the Class 4A state title game. It returns key starters including offensive lineman Brady Foltz and running back LaQua Mayes, which leaves Slade reason to believe it can succeed again this season despite a tough schedule.
After being knocked out of the playoffs last year by Buhler, is your team pumped up to play that squad in the first game of the season?
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"Especially being the last game of the year and you go back to a place that you lost at, your kids are going to have to make that an important game. We're playing the same team we ended our season with. Plus we're both in the same division now, so we're looking at a huge league game. You're taking two teams that are going to be pretty good. We returned some guys and Buhler returned some guys. We both had good senior classes, and I feel like we both have good classes coming up, too."
Do you feel like you could have some of the magic you had last year and be as successful?
"Yeah, I feel like we can do some good things. I think we lost one of our bigger senior classes, so I think part of our success is going to be people stepping up and showing leadership."
Who are some of the guys you're expecting to step up for you this year?
"We've obviously got Brady Foltz... I feel like we have some other guys, too. LaQua needs to step up in there and Cody Peabody and Jared Vaughn. LaQua was our running back last year, and obviously Jared struggled with some injuries last year. He's healthy and looking good this summer. He's going to have to be one of those kids to step up."
Looking at your schedule this year, you've got Buhler, Collegiate and then Andale to start off the season. Your team is going to have to be ready to go from Day 1, isn't it?
"We're going to know where our team stands after Week 3, aren't we? We're going to have a pretty good idea about what kind of team we're going to have. Talking a little more about Buhler, they're going to be a very strong team in 4A. Collegiate always puts a good team on and Andale is always a team in this area year in and year out that is deep in the playoffs. Those are three teams that are going to be pretty good."
After moving, how do you feel about your league?
"I feel like week in and week out in Division III and IV, you're going to get some of the best football around. So we moved out the league where we had to play Wellington and we moved into the league where we get Buhler, Winfield and Mulvane. All of those teams or going to put good products on the field... I always talk to our boys about every Friday you'd better show up and be ready to play."
What is your team doing now? Seven-on-Seven? Camps?
"Right now, we're in the middle of our camp. We waited to do our camp the last week possible. We finished 7-on-7. We'll finish camp on Thursday and Friday. And then this weekend, we'll cut back contact time as far as football. We'll be getting our boys in the weight room."
Do you think it's more advantageous for you to have your camp in the last week of your allotted time as opposed to earlier?
"The camp is valuable. It's even more valuable this summer because we can put on helmets again. I can still practice without helmets if I want to. You've got to do what's best for your program. We just felt like we could do it at this time and have a good chance."
What else should people know about your team?
"I just feel like our kids work hard during the summer, and I just appreciate what they do and the dedication they give our program. And I feel like right now, everybody's doing something this summer to get them ready for the season. I just ask our kids to get after it and for each day they come to work hard, and I feel like they're doing that."