The injury to Collegiate fullback Levi Aldag in the Spartans’ second postseason win in 2014 was a disappointment.
“The last four games of the year, he really started to come into his own,” Collegiate coach Mike Gehrer said. “He was a very important weapon in the offense. He got hurt and it changed things a little bit.”
Collegiate’s season ended the next week with a loss in the quarterfinals at Scott City.
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Jaques Williams, who had 1,484 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns, has graduated, but running back Nathan Burgoyne returns with Aldag.
“Levi is a power and straight-ahead guy,” Gehrer said. “He’s a load. He hits the hole quick and he has great speed. He’s a pretty big guy, but he’s also on the (400-meter relay) team, so not only does he break the line of scrimmage, he has an opportunity to go quite a ways.
“And Nathan is the fastest guy on the team. He brings the ability to cut and stretch the field both ways. He can create a lot of vertical and horizontal stretch pretty quickly.”
The offense will start with an experienced line and be led with senior quarterback Austin Waddell, who had 1,491 passing yards and five turnovers.
“He’s worked hard on getting faster and working on his strength,” Gehrer said. “He’s at 205 (pounds) this year, and he’s a little more physical. He’s not only going to be a big guy in our passing game, but he’ll have the opportunity to run some option and do some things there, too, with his speed.”
Gehrer also expects the defense to be dynamic and aggressive.
“We’ve got so many of the same guys. They all played a lot last year, and I look to them to swarm to the ball,” he said. “Speed will be our strength on defense. We won’t be a big, overwhelming group up front dominating, but we’ll have a lot of speed and aggressiveness.”
Collegiate also has experience overall with 14 seniors — nine more than last season.
“Collegiate is a small school, but the advantage is we can rely on each other,” senior lineman Will Locke said. “And we have a large group to lead.
“This is the year we’ve been working for for a long time.”