The No. 1 task for the Smithville Warriors will be finding a way to replace both the leading rusher and leading tackler in school history. Aside from that, there's a lot to like.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
Really, there is.
The Warriors return a total of 13 starters, and the defense welcomes back seven from a unit that held opponents to single digits in six of 12 games.
"The defense was the strength of our team last year and will be again with most of our front seven back," Warriors coach Greg Smith said. "We did lose some very good seniors, but there's some experience there that we can lean on."
Specifically, the Warriors lose Joe Dominiak, the school's all-time top tackler. Still, the three linebackers remaining — Nolan Gromacki, Scottie Olson and Bailey Wilson — form a talented group across the middle. Add to that, Chase Thomas and Mason Smith will play on both the offensive and defensive lines. Both are three-year starters.
Those two will be heavily relied on to help ease a new quarterback and running back into the mix. A week before the opening game the quarterback battle hadn't yet been settled, but Gromacki will handle most of the running duties. He replaces Zach Parmenter, who rushed for 1,754 yards and 18 touchdowns last season while breaking the school's career rushing mark.
"We're a spread offense, but I think balance is going to be the key," Smith said. "We can't be too predictable. We can't hang our hat on just one thing. We have to be able to attack a defense in multiple ways with a couple of different kids."