Coach: Brent Pfeifer, ninth season, 55-25
League: AV-CTL III
Last season: 10-2, lost in 4A I semifinals
Returning starters: 13
Schedule: Sept. 1, at Circle; Sept. 8, McPherson; Sept. 15, at KC Washington; Sept. 22, Buhler; Sept. 29, Mulvane. Oct. 6, at Winfield; Oct. 13, Augusta; Oct. 20, at Rose Hill; Oct. 27, at Andover Central.
Projected record: 8-1
Top returning players
Three keys to the season
1. Maize South is looking for a quarterback to continue the impressive run at the position by Korie Frausto and Ethan Richardson
2. While in Class 5A, Maize South couldn’t get past Bishop Carroll in the postseason. Now in 4A-Division I, that obstacle seems to be Buhler, which beat Maize South twice last season. The teams meet in Maize on Sept. 22.
3. Maize South has regularly had a strong defense but Pfeifer believes they can reach another level to help the Mavericks play deeper into the postseason. They have seven returning defensive starters, all seniors.
Five questions with coach Brent Pfeifer
1. What can this year’s team learn from last year’s deep playoff run?
“I think more than anything what we’ve found out over the last six or seven years is that the extra practices really pay off. It’s an obvious motivator when you can play longer because the kids want to get back to those big games and those crowds and that environment. But really it pays off with the extra practices when you make that far into the playoffs. We got over a month of extra time with these kids last year and we think that’s really going to help us out.”
2. How is the offense looking?
“We had quite a few injuries last year, so by the time we got into our 12th week of play we ended up starting quite a few underclassmen on the field. We had three sophomores and a junior in the backfield, so having all of those guys back with some great experience and a lot of speed and a lot more strength is pretty exciting. Bradyn Wiens is back for us at receiver, and then we have juniors in Cory Minks, Andrew Bliss, and Nolan Veenis. Those guys are really fast, shifty kids that are going to make a lot of special things happen. We’re hoping that Nolan can take his skills from the hardcout and translate them onto the turf for us.”
3. Replacing Ethan Richardson at quarterback will be a pressing issue. Any update there?
“We’ve got a lot of experience coming back around the quarterback position, so that makes us feel pretty good to have that kind of experience around them. It’s not like we don’t have any talent at that position, but we’re still looking to see who’s going to win the battle for it. We probably aren’t going to make a decision on that until we need to. All of them are sharing time right now and we’re working on figuring out who is going to give us the best chance to win.”
4. How is the defense?
“We lose one guy on the line and then we’ve got to replace all of our linebackers, but we had some kids who were able to get some experience at that spot for last year. We’re going to have young linebackers, but we’re excited about them. We feel like defensively by the time it’s Week 6 and 7, we’re going to be in a really good spot. Our guys up front are going to be a lot of fun to watch. Our speed up front is just incredible. We have some guys up front that are going to be really quick and have great hands and they’re always moving. They’re going to be hard to block. And then our secondary is coming back with Jack Wagner at safety being a three-year starter. Tyler White and Tristen Knoblauch are both going to be two-year startesr for us. Really those three guys together makes you feel very safe when the ball goes in the air. If somebody has to throw the ball against us, then we feel pretty good we’re going to make a play.”
5. What’s the X-Factor for this year’s team to make another deep run?
“I think over time what we have learned is to make a good, long run in the postseason what we really need is an unselfish team attitude. A team that makes a long run is going to have injuries and they’re going to have to fight through them and sometimes that means asking kids to play positions they’ve never played before. Kids are going to have to step up and if our team comes together and is really unselfish and continues to work hard, then we’re going to have a great year.”