Over the past three seasons, Winnetonka has established itself as a running football team, one of the punch-you-in-the-mouth variety. With senior Aaron Mends, junior Marquise Doherty and junior Chase Williams back for another season, don't expect the Griffins to change anything now.
By SAM MCDOWELL
The Kansas City Star
After back-to-back seven-win seasons, the Griffins will look to three talented running backs to lead them into the mix for the Suburban Red Conference title.
"We have two Division I caliber running backs (Mends and Doherty) in our backfield, and Chase Williams is a guy nobody knows about only because he lives in their shadows," Winnetonka coach Sterling Edwards said. "We're going to hand it to them. I'm not keeping any secrets."
It's not just the talent in the backfield that portends a successful running game. Winnetonka also returns four of its five starting offensive lineman.
The numbers look good for the defense, too. Mends, a three-year starter at linebacker, leads a unit that gets back six starters, including four of its five linebackers. As for the front-four, the Griffins are excited about defensive end Markel Fluker, finally healthy after battling injuries throughout his career.
"It's crazy how talented and athletic the middle of our defense is," Edwards said. "It's going to be a group that runs to the football and makes plays."
Winnetonka raced to a 5-1 record a year ago before stumbling down the stretch.
"We just didn't have the leadership within our locker room that we needed last year," Edwards said. "We spent the off-season developing leadership within our team. Hopefully that will result in less ups and downs, especially late in the year."