While Olathe North’s veteran and star-studded football roster would thrill many coaches, Gene Weir is experienced enough to resign himself to cautious optimism.
Four-star linebacker Jimmie Swain graduated in the spring and left for Oregon. The team already has two more players committed to Division I programs before they even play a down of their senior season. Tight end Josh Moore was the first to announce his decision, picking Ohio State. Teammate Marcel Spears, a linebacker, followed with a commitment to Iowa State.
Weir is expecting a couple more players, like Venus Triplett, the Sunflower League’s top returning rusher, to sign letters of intent this year.
“I see ability, but that ability has to turn into execution,” Weir said. “If we get there, then we will be pretty good. But if we don’t, then we will be average.”
Some of his hesitation comes from his team’s 8-4 record last year and a loss to Sunflower League foe Shawnee Mission East in the Kansas Class 6A state semifinals.
“Late in the season we started acting kind of big-headed and lost our focus,” Triplett said. “We have to take that as a lesson learned and hopefully this year — if we get that close and develop as a team more — I think we can win it all.”
Moore is the top recruit among the Eagles, earning three stars from Rivals.com. The site has him ranked as the No. 5 recruit in the state of Kansas and No. 24 tight end prospect in the class. In the end, he had narrowed his college choices to Ohio State and Florida State.
Spears follows as a two-star prospect and No. 10 recruit in the state. He ranked second on the team last season with 42 tackles and led the team with three forced fumbles.
Triplett is not ranked by Rivals.com, but he put up impressive numbers last year with 1,530 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also has the benefit of a veteran offensive line and returning quarterback Cole Murphy, which should help his productivity.
“It’s exciting, but I think people hype it up too much,” Moore said. “We can’t take it all to the head because then we get cocky, people come out and beat us and we look stupid. So we have to keep working hard.”
The Eagles will get a unique first test tonight when they travel south to Arkansas to face Rogers Heritage at 7:30 p.m. The game was organized as a result of the Sunflower League’s unanimous vote to establish open scheduling in the first week of the season.
“We want the kids to have a little fun, see something different and see how football is played in other areas of the country,” Weir said. “We think it’s a great experience for them.”
After their trip to Arkansas, the Eagles will play eight consecutive Sunflower League opponents.
To reach Kathleen Gier, call 816-234-4875 or send email to email@example.com.