|Plainsmen expect offseason dedication to translate to wins and playoffs in 2010|
By Pastor Vince Carrig
All of the Plainsmen’s hard offseason work goes on display Friday night in Benkelman as the team lines up against the Dundy County-Stratton Tigers on Friday to start the 2010 season.
Senior Michael York leads the offense, having rushed for 355 yards and eight touchdowns and throwing for 397 yards and three more scores last season, with hopes to improve those numbers this fall.
York starts at quarterback for the third consecutive year. The Plainsmen have enjoyed the luxury of stability at that position, with two consecutive three-year starters under center in the last six seasons.
In fact, Perkins County returns seven of 11 starters on both sides of the ball, with many of the starters having two years under their belts.
“I think it will become apparent to other teams that not only do we have a lot of players back, but that everybody got better,” Head Coach Chip Kay said about his team’s commitment and dedication to offseason conditioning, camps and scrimmages.
The Plainsmen had 23 of 31 players make the “900 pound” (weightlifting) club late this summer. That number has jumped significantly from less than a handful three years ago, and those who put in the hard work expect it to convert into wins.
“Last year’s playoff win continues to fuel the desire to return the Plainsmen as perennial contenders in C2 with a good mix of returning starters and depth heading into the season,” he said.
Coach Kay (71-41 overall, 16-11 in three seasons at Perkins County) points to line play and the defensive secondary as keys to his team’s success.
Along the lines, Perkins County will rely on Vinny Ross and Derek Brueggeman to grow into the starting roles they earned. Both of them hold the line of scrimmage extremely well and both have the ability to get to the quarterback in his drop. The junior Brueggeman gives the Plainsmen quickness and good technique on both sides of the ball.
Tyler Brott will line up in front of York as a 6-foot-5, 265-pound lineman, to protect him and pave the way for the rushing attack. Brott’s size and strength also makes him the anchor of the defensive line. He will start on both sides of the ball for the third year in a row.
Third-year starting defensive back Kyle Schulze, 2009 interception leader Taylor Boldt, sophomore safety Quinton Hite and Trevor Lee should keep the back door closed on most plays. All four have the athletic ability and the experience to break up passes and tackle receivers in front of them.
The kicking of Jeremy Hagan could swing a game or two in the Plainsmen’s favor all by itself. The senior placekicker continues to split the uprights with accuracy and can reach the crossbar from 40 yards away with consistency. Hagan added 20 of 25 extra points last year, along with three field goals with a long of 38 yards. Coach Kay expects Hagan to continue to power kickoffs into the end zone and pin opponents inside their own 20-yard line.
Alex Johnston will line up in the offensive backfield as the Plainsmen running game’s most experienced back. The sophomore piled up 401 ground yards last year, and possesses long-gain speed. Once Johnston churns out of the hole, he can shift into an overdrive gear that can shorten the distance to the goal line in a hurry.
The versatile junior Brody Prante will get his share of carries behind Johnston. Prante can hit holes and creases and speed into defensive backfields as well.
Three starters remain to support the wall of a defensive line that will knuckle-down for the Plainsmen: linebackers Riley Kosmicki, Chad Fosbinder and Johnston. They, along with top returning inside linebacker Elliot Carlson will need to fly to the ball to enforce the gains that the defensive line wins. York slides up from safety to linebacker and Perkins County will count on him to hunt down wayward runners and escaping receivers.
After dropping back and rolling, York will look to throw to Christian Miyamoto and Taylor Boldt on the flanks and might find tight end Austin Gaston and Hagan in the slots. Christian Miyamoto looks for a break-out year after an injury-shortened 2009.
Quinton Hite will punt the ball away when necessary for the red, white and black team, and back up York as a quarterback. Hite averaged 28.6 yards per punt last year.
Holyoke, Sutherland, Bayard and Chase County visit Haenfler Field in Grant, while the Perkins County bus will need some extra fuel for trips to Cambridge, Morrill and Bridgeport.
“Our success this year will be the development, effort, and performance of the players battling for starting positions,” Coach Kay said.
“I think people will notice that each game, somebody different makes a big play. Good leadership and an unselfish attitude will be crucial for the Plainsmen to capture their first district championship since 2001.”