Coach: Cade Armstrong, first season
League: AV-CTL II
Last season: 6-4
Returning starters: 8
Schedule: Sept. 1, at Salina Central; Sept. 8, at Kapaun (at WSU); Sept. 14, Goddard; Sept. 22, Andover Central; Sept. 29, at Campus; Oct. 6, Newton; Oct. 13, Eisenhower; Oct. 20, at Valley Center.
Projected record: 3-5
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. Armstrong, Derby’s defensive coordinator the past four seasons, will be Andover’s third head coach in as many seasons after Tony Crough accepted the defensive coordinator position at Hutchinson Community College. Crough’s two-platoon system and spread offense eased Armstrong’s transition. “What Tony did gave me a year head start,” Armstrong said.
2. The Trojans return one offensive starter and a reliable target in Smith. Rapid development from freshman quarterback Eli Fahnestock will be important, and he will be working behind a revamped offensive line led by McGill.
3. Andover returns seven defensive starters, with most of its experience at the linebacker positions and in the secondary. Mayes is the vocal leader of the unit, while Alfaro and sophomore Adrian Mannie offer lockdown potential at cornerback.
Five questions with coach Cade Armstrong
1. What did you try to focus on in your first summer in Andover?
“The biggest thing I focused on was hard work. Coming from Derby and watching what Brandon (Clark) did there, I felt like he really won in the weight room. That’s what I’m trying to bring over to Andover. I want to make sure that these kids are going to be ready for the season and I think they’ve worked harder than they’ve ever worked before. They’ve really responded well and I thought they’ve done a great job. The X’s and the O’s are going to come, but if we can focus on hard work then we’ll be fine.”
2. How is the offense coming along?
“Really the only starter we have coming back on that side of the ball is Ben Smith. We had some special pieces last year and we’re going to have to replace a ton of production and our entire offensive line. We’ve got a super fast sophomore running back in Peyton Henry and we’re going to look to split with a senior in Chase Gummeringer. We really like those two guys. And then at quarterback, we’re going to go with a freshman in Eli Fahnestock and he’s going to be something else. He really is. We’ll spread it out and go fast and try to keep defenses off-balanced and try to take advantage of those skill players that we’ve got.”
3. What’s the defense looking like?
“I really do feel good about the defense. I would probably say that pretty much all of our fastest guys are on the defensive side of the ball. We’ve got Casey Mayes in the middle and he is just a complete stud. I think he’s overlooked because he’s a baseball guy, but man he’s got a D-1 body for a football player. We’re going to pursue and fly around and I think we’re going to play fast this season.”
4. What is it going to take to have a successful season?
“Our defense is going to have to play great. We have seven returning starters coming back and we are going to be senior-heavy. We know our defense is going to have to be great. And then we have to be great at special teams, too. That’s something I take very serious. The offense is going to take time, but if we can be good at defense and at special teams then we are going to be able to compete.”
5. What’s the biggest challenge facing you this season?
“The biggest hurdle for me is just the numbers. It’s tough. It’s definitely not Derby. We’re not going to be two or three deep at every position. We’re going to try to platoon, but with our thin numbers we’re going to have some kids that might have to play both ways. The biggest challenge is trying to get the community bought in. I’ve already started doing stuff with the junior football in Andover and get those young Trojans dreaming about playing for us on Friday nights. That’s the plan for the future and try to get our numbers up. Coach (Tony) Crough did a great job, so we’ve just got to keep it going.”