First-year Garden Plain coach Ken Dusenbury wasn’t around to evaluate the difference between the Owls’ 11-win 2012 season and the two four-win years that followed. But it’s not difficult to deduce.
“I think the depth of talent,” Dusenbury said. “I think they had talent, they just didn’t have as much talent as they’ve had before. That’s what people have told me.”
The rebuilding efforts are a work in progress, according to Dusenbury, but not so slow-moving that another four-win season would be palatable. Garden Plain returns 11 seniors, a number that will allow Dusenbury to ease in to his first head-coaching job after nine years as an Andover assistant.
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“Usually when you come into a situation … you’re not going to have a senior quarterback and you’re not going to have the senior buy-in that we have. It was a very unique situation in that sense.”
Many veterans play key offensive positions, including quarterback Alex Becker and lineman Jonah Nowak. An improved offense seems like the quickest past toward improvement, as the Owls scored in single digits in three losses last year.
“I think it’s going to be a process,” Dusenbury said. “We have some talented skill-position kids but we have to develop a line. We’re going to try to get them going as fast as we can.”
The Central Plains’ upper-echelon teams – Chaparral, Conway Springs and Cheney – outscored Garden Plain 76-34 last season. Trimming that disparity could mean no more four-win seasons, and the Owls have ideas on how to do it.
“I think it’s the leadership,” Becker said. “Our seniors know we need to bring that back to Garden Plain, so that’s what we’ve been striving for this summer.”