Previews for CPL teams Cheney, Conway Springs, Garden Plain, Trinity Academy and Wichita Independent can be found elsewhere at VarsityKansas.com this week.
Coach: Jason Jinkens, second season, 0-9
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Top players: Steve Happy, QB-LB, 6-0, 205, sr.; Matt DeShazer, OL-DL, 6-0, 250, sr.; Brett Kelly, OL-DL, 6-0, 235, sr.; Tyler Lowers, WR-DB, 6-1, 185, sr.; Peyton Pozehl, WR, 6-4, 190, jr.
Notes: Lowers, an honorable-mention all-league defender, also gives the Dragons a deep threat on offense. DeShazer and Kelly will be key building blocks on the offensive line as Belle Plaine tries to improve a unit that produced just 96 points last season.
Schedule: Sept. 5, Medicine Lodge; Sept. 12, at Garden Plain; Sept. 19, Bluestem; Sept. 26, at Trinity Academy; Oct. 3, at Douglass; Oct. 10, Independent; Oct. 17, at Chaparral; Oct. 24, Conway Springs; Oct. 30, Cheney.
Coach: Kyle Wallis, fourth season, 5-23
Top players: Cooper Minnick, QB-LB, 5-10, 175, sr.; John Stiger, WR-DB, 5-11, 145, sr.; Michael Hurd, OL-DL, 6-4, 210, sr.; Casey Garner, SB-S, 5-10, 140, sr.; Skylar Sooter, 6-0, 180, sr.
Notes: Bluestem has a good veteran presence with 15 seniors, including Minnick, who transitioned into the quarterback spot midway through last season. Hurd earned second-team all-league on both sides of the line while Stiger, a three-year starter, and Garner, who sat out last season after transferring from Eureka, give Minnick some passing targets.
Schedule: Sept. 5, at Conway Springs; Sept. 12, Chaparral; Sept. 19, at Belle Plaine; Sept. 26, Cheney; Oct. 3, Medicine Lodge; Oct. 10, at Garden Plain; Oct. 17, Collegiate; Oct. 24, at Douglass; Oct. 30, Independent.
Coach: Justin Burke, fifth season, 16-22
Top players: Shawn Nulik, QB-DB, 5-9, 160, sr.; Eric Hurt, OL-DL, 6-2, 270, sr.; Jaden Helms, OL-DL, 6-3, 270, sr.; Adam Clark, RB-LB, 5-10, 180, jr.; Austin Thomas, OL-DL, 5-11, 195, sr.
Notes: Few teams return as much experience as Chaparral, which brings back 11 defensive and nine offensive starters. Nulik and Hurt were first-team all-league performers on offense and defense, while Clark’s 100 tackles led the Roadrunners.
Schedule: Sept. 5, Independent; Sept. 12, at Bluestem; Sept. 19, at Trinity Academy; Sept. 26, Medicine Lodge; Oct. 3, Garden Plain; Oct. 10, at Douglass; Oct. 17, Belle Plaine; Oct. 24, at Cheney; Oct. 30, Conway Springs.
Coach: Jeffrey Ast, fourth season, 14-24
2013: 5-5, lost in first round of 3A playoffs
Top players: Austin Titus, RB-DE, 5-10, 225, sr.; Brody Caster, OL-DL, 6-2, 230, sr.; Rip Fraley, RB-LB, 5-10, 190, sr.; Ethan Savoy, WR-SS, 6-1, 200, sr.; Austin Byers, OL-DL, 6-1, 235, sr.
Notes: After making their second playoff appearance in three seasons, the Bulldogs will test the CPL with a veteran team. Titus ran for almost 700 yards in four games before sustaining a season-ending knee injury. He and Fraley form a solid running duo that will be complemented by strong-armed sophomore Hunter Chadic.
Schedule: Sept. 5, at Trinity Academy; Sept. 12, Cheney; Sept. 19, at Medicine Lodge; Sept. 26, at Conway Springs; Oct. 3, Belle Plaine; Oct. 10, Chaparral; Oct. 17, at Independent; Oct. 24, Bluestem; Oct. 30, at Collegiate.
Coach: Josh Ybarra, second season, 3-6
Top players: Erich Fischer, OL-DL, 6-6, 190, sr.; Aaron Woodward, RB-LB, 6-0, 187, sr.; Gage Axline, RB-LB, 5-11, 182, jr.; Nick Noland, WR-DB, 5-9, 152, jr.; Ethan Hargett, QB-DB, 6-3, 157, jr.
Notes: The Indians’ three victories in Ybarra’s first season marked a slight improvement, but their coach wants better execution in Year 2. Medicine Lodge must replace all-league quarterback Scott Beecher, who graduated, but returns honorable-mention selections on both sides of the ball in receiver Noland and linebacker Axline.
Schedule: Sept. 5, at Belle Plaine; Sept. 12, Conway Springs; Sept. 19, Douglass; Sept. 26, at Chaparral; Oct. 3, at Bluestem; Oct. 10, Moundridge; Oct. 18, Salina Sacred Heart (at Lindsborg); Oct. 24, Sedgwick; Oct. 30, at Inman.