Coach: Mike Gehrer, 24th season, 174-50
League: AV-CTL IV
Last season: 7-3, lost in 4A II first round
Returning starters: 9
Schedule: Sept. 1, at Rose Hill; Sept. 8, Hoisington; Sept. 15, Buhler; Sept 22, at Mulvane; Sept. 29, at Wellington. Oct. 6, Andale; Oct. 13, Clearwater; Oct. 20, at Nickerson; Oct. 26, Trinity Academy.
Projected record: 8-1
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. McNerney has led his class as quarterback for nearly a decade and can send them out with a defining moment two years after Collegiate lost in the Class 3A title game.
2. McNerney is protected by an experienced offensive line, which includes prospect Copeland, and Charbonneau. His weapons include Egan and speed at the skill positions.
3. Collegiate will use that speed within their spread offense that McNerney has mastered over the years. Kaden Ramos and Grant Morrow give Collegiate versatility at running back.
Five questions with coach Mike Gehrer
1. Having a great playmaker like Cody McNerney back at the quarterback position, how much does that help?
“Cody certainly keeps plays alive and his athleticism makes a lot of things happen. He’s a dual threat with his ability to throw and his ability to run it with his legs. He’s got a great arm, but his feet are what keeps a lot of pass plays alive. He’s able to avoid the rush and keep plays alive and he makes those very, very special plays. Plus the fact he’ll be back there for his third year. That’s such a good feeling knowing he’s back there and knowing he knows what the position requires and how to read the coverages. We’re excited to have him back there.”
2. What are the questions entering the season for Collegiate?
“Right now our offensive and defensive line is our No. 1 concern. We’ve got Mac Copeland, Jack Bendell, and Trey Charbonneau back and they played both lines last year. We’re going to move Jack to guard after he played center for us last year. But we’ve got to fill those other spots and it’s nice to have Mac there on the line since he’s played there since he was a sophomore. We’re looking for him to be the leader and lead us with the communication of getting us in and out of the right schemes. He’s been unbelievable in the weight room and this year he’s really stepped up. But we’re going to need some other guys to step up and lighten the load for those other guys.”
3. How’s the rest of the offense looking?
“We’ve got to spread people out sideline to sideline and make them respect the speed that we have on the team this year. We’ll have Grant Morrow and William Devore back there behind Cody splitting time, so he’ll have one of those guys as an option. We have Colin Egan back as a reciver and he’ll be our top guy returning. Runs great routes and has a great chemistry with Cody. And then we have a junior, Kaden Ramos, who just has tremendous speed. He didn’t play a lot last year, but he’s our fastest guy on the team right now. Speed is a real blessing for us this year. This is going to be the fastest offense we’ve had probably.”
4. What’s the defense looking like?
“Defensively, we’ve got Mac Copeland coming back and then we’ll have Cody (McNerney) playing in the secondary. We’ll have Trey Charbonneau back and some other great guys like Gabe Fisher on the line. He’s very athletic and very skilled. Our whole defense in general is very fast. They can all run. We have a lot of seniors, I think 20, and that’s the most we’ve had that many kids out for the team. Now it’s their turn to step up and take on that responsibility. So we’re looking for those guys to step up since it will be the first real opportunity for many of those guys.”
5. What has to happen for Collegiate to reach its potential?
“It’s going to take that senior group to step up and be disciplined and taking on those responsibilities and keeping up from making those stupid pre-snap penalties and all of those other things we’ve got to keep in check. We have to operate 11 as one and if we do that, then we’re going to have a pretty successful year. We do have a lot of talent, but we’re just not very deep.”