Coach: Ken Dusenbury, third season, 19-4
League: Central Plains League
Last season: 10-2, lost in 3A quarterfinals
Returning starters: 11
Offense: Shotgun Wing T
Schedule: Sept. 1, at Hesston; Sept. 8, at Trinity; Sept. 16, at Kearney Catholic (Neb.); Sept. 22, Independent; Sept. 29, Belle Plaine; Oct. 6, at Douglass; Oct. 13, Conway Springs; Oct. 20, at Chaparral; Oct. 26, Cheney.
Projected record: 5-4
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. The top two rushers from last year — who combined for 2,543 of the Owls’ 3,531 yards on the ground — are gone, but that downhill rushing attack should continue. It will start up front, where Becker, Youngers and Brady Klein return to form a strong nucleus for a line that any runner wouldn’t mind lining up behind.
2. Benefitting from the brawlers on the line will be Dooley and Becker, the top two returning rushers. Garden Plain will have to break in a new quarterback, but considering Nate Pauly posted nearly as many rushing touchdowns (28) as passing attempts (46) last season, the learning curve shouldn’t be as steep as a QB in a pass-heavy system.
3. The magic number for the Owls last season seemed to be 20. The defense allowed that many points on five occasions, all wins, and gave up more than 20 just three times. Youngers and Becker will pull double duty on the line, giving Dooley room to roam at his linebacker position.