The past few years have been a steady upward trend for De Soto football: 0-9 in 2013, 3-6 in 2014 and 6-3 last season. So the goal for 2016, says fourth-year head coach Brian King, is to build off that and continue the trajectory.
“We’ve made some pretty good strides, but we want to keep moving forward,” King said. “We made a playoffs appearance last year, and that was great, but an appearance isn’t our goal anymore. A postseason run is our goal.”
De Soto will return 11 starters, including six on defense. Senior defensive lineman Daric Coffee will lead that side of the ball, as well as safety Chance Montgomery, who finished 2015 with 80 tackles.
On offense, De Soto will benefit from depth at the tailback position. Senior Mason Clark scored 11 touchdowns last year despite an injury-riddled season. Senior Max Barger got plenty of playing time as well.
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The team will break in a new starting quarterback, junior Bryce Mohl, who King said could be an “electric” presence for the offense.
Head coach Jason Feeback will try to help Spring Hill make a jump from the bottom of the Frontier League this season, after a 2-7 finish last year.
The Broncos return senior starting quarterback Jake Letellier, who also received All-Frontier League recognition as an honorable-mention punter last year. He’ll join an offense that has stayed largely intact. Of the 14 returning starters for Spring Hill, eight are on the offensive side of the ball.
Those returners include plenty of bulk in the trenches. Half of Spring Hill’s returning starters are linemen, and the entire offensive line — seniors Sam Arnold, Sam Christy and Nick Sprague, and juniors Keegan Crotchet and Jacob James — will be back.
Speedy slot receiver Mason Bell, who plays defensive back as well, will also play a sizable role in the team’s success. Ty Straw returns as the starting running back.
The Maranatha Academy/Immaculata football program has numbers now, after the schools combined forces last season.
But fine-tuned expertise? That’s still to come.
Freshmen make up more than half the team this year, with 13 of the 25-person roster readying for their first high school snaps.
“Our starting fullback, starting quarterback, wide receivers, tight end will all be freshmen,” head coach Bryan Burdette said. “They’re very good and very skilled, but still, freshmen.”
One of the few instances of seniority comes via running back/linebacker Micah Webb. The now four-year starter rushed for 940 yards and 12 touchdowns last year.
“A huge focus of ours will be getting him the ball and giving him space to run,” Burdette said. “The amazing thing about him is this is only his fourth year playing. His ceiling is so high.”
Webb will be running behind an offensive line that Burdette characterizes as the team’s strength. Several experienced players — guard Anthony Briggs, tackle Dominic Adkins and center Nick DePriest — return this season.