Coach: Jason Jinkens, first season
2012: 2-7. Top players: Chase Curl, RB-LB, 5-11, 185, sr.; Harrison Busick, WR-LB, 6-1, 180, sr.; Justin Pickens, WR-SS, 6-0, 160, sr.; Nathan Schnier, WR-CB, 5-11, 160, sr.; Tone Heath, OL, 5-11, 210, sr.; Thai Goebel, DL, 6-2, 225, sr.
Notes: Experience and leadership at skill positions and secondary positions on offense will be Belle Plaine’s overall strength. The Dragons suffered from too many turnovers last year, and will need to focus on minimizing turnovers on offense, while forcing more turnovers on defense in order to improve on last season’s record. Inexperience on the offensive line and lack of depth will be challenges.
Schedule: Sept. 6, at Cheney; Sept. 13, vs. Trinity Academy (at Circle); Sept. 20, Garden Plain; Sept. 27, Bluestem; Oct. 4, at Haven; Oct. 11, at Independent; Oct. 18, Conway Springs; Oct. 25, at Douglass; Oct. 26, at Chaparral.
Coach: Kyle Wallis, third season, 4-15
2012: 1-8. Top players: Cooper Minnick, RB-LB, 5-9, 175, jr.; Adam Wolfe, WR-DB, 5-10, 160, sr.; Brett Elsen, WR-LB, 6-1, 185, sr.; John Stiger, QB-DB, 5-10, 165, jr.; Dylan Emmons, WR-DB, 6-1, 165, sr.; Logan Haworth, OL-DL, 6-0, 240, sr.
Notes: With a number of young players seeing playing time last year, experience will serve as a strength. Youth contributed to mental mistakes on offense last year, but Bluestem will need to eliminate those errors in order to improve. The Lions return four honorable-mention all-league players.
Schedule: Sept. 6, Conway Springs; Sept. 13, at Medicine Lodge; Sept. 20, at Chaparral; Sept. 27, at Belle Plaine; Oct. 4, Douglass; Oct. 11, NE-Arma; Oct. 18, at Remington; Oct. 25, Sedgwick; Oct. 31, Independent.
Coach: Justin Burke, fourth season, 12-17
2012: 4-6. Top players: Conner Dickey, RB-LB, 6-1, 220, sr.; Chip Wannamaker, RB-LB, 5-11, 205, sr.; Shawn Nulik, WR-DB, 5-9, 150, jr.; Jaden Helms, OL-DL, 6-3, 270, jr.; Eric Hurt, OL-DL, 6-1, 270, jr.; Roger Clark, WR-DB, 6-1, 155, jr.
Notes: The return of 10 starters and 18 letterman from last year’s team will be important for the Roadrunners, especially with key positions to fill. Senior Kyndell Hightree will have to fill the void at quarterback, left by all-league Zach Duwe, who graduated. The defense struggled last year, but the addition of new defensive coordinator Jimmy McDowell, and four-year starter Dickey at linebacker, will help lead the defense. Burke is hopeful that an experienced offense that averaged 44 points can balance with Chaparral’s developing defense to carry the Roadrunners to a third playoff appearance in four seasons.
Schedule: Sept. 6, vs. Trinity Academy (at Augusta); Sept. 13, at Garden Plain; Sept. 20, Bluestem; Sept. 27, at Medicine Lodge; Oct. 4, Independent; Oct. 11, Cheney; Oct. 18, at Douglass; Oct. 25, at Conway Springs; Oct. 26, Belle Plaine.
Coach: Jeffrey Ast, third season, 9-19
2012: 3-6. Top players: Chase Banister, QB, 5-7, 150, sr.; Braiden Seal, OL, 5-8, 170, sr.; Drew Chadic, RB-CB, 5-7, 145, sr.; Nick Broyles, DL, 5-10, 200, sr.; John Gardner, LB, 6-0, 205, sr.; Hunter Roberts, DL, 6-0, 215, sr.
Notes: Coach Jeffrey Ast is trying new things on the offense this season to compliment the running game that he is hopeful will be a strength for Douglass. The Bulldogs played a young roster last season, and returns 15 letterman with seven returning offensive starters and eight returning defensive starters. Leadership from the senior class is a strength for Douglass, but lack of depth in key positions could be a problem throughout the season.
Schedule: Sept. 6, Garden Plain; Sept. 13, KC (Mo.) Christ Prep; Sept. 20, Medicine Lodge; Sept. 27, at Independent; Oct. 4, at Bluestem; Oct. 11, Trinity Academy; Oct. 18, Chaparral; Oct. 25, Belle Plaine; Oct. 31, at Conway Springs.
Coach: Josh Ybarra, first season
2012: 2-7. Top players: Scott Beecher, QB-DB, 5-8, 160, sr.; Erich Fischer, OL-DL, 6-4, 190, jr.; Anthony Schmidt, OL-DL, 5-9, 180, jr.; AaronWoodward, TE-LB, 5-9, 180, jr.; Gage Axline, RB-LB, 5-10, 175, so.; Nick Noland, RB-DB, 5-7, 145, so.
Notes: A young, inexperienced team, and a first-year coach has already posed a problem for Medicine Lodge. The team will possibly play eight juniors and seniors, and about 20 freshmen and sophomores according to coach Josh Ybarra. Medicine Lodge hopes to become more balanced between passing and running on offense, but its strength lies in its use of misdirection in its run game, which corrects for an undersized team.
Schedule: Sept. 6, Independent; Sept. 13, Bluestem; Sept. 20, at Douglass; Sept. 27, Chaparral; Oct. 4, Inman; Oct. 11, at Sterling; Oct. 18, Ellinwood; Oct. 25, at Sublette; Oct. 31, at LaCrosse.