Preview of 2010 football season
by Dennis Sharkey
The 2010 football season is ready to kick off with some teams looking to build on last year’s accomplishments while others look to rebuild.
Three county teams, Valley Falls, Oskaloosa, and Jefferson West made post season appearances while the Perry-Lecompton Kaws were going home early last year after a state title game appearance.
The JCN Chargers have experienced some low points the last couple of seasons but both teams will look to bounce back and make some improvements this year.
Most county team’s schedules will also look different this year as the state moves to a different format for district play. Perry-Lecompton and Jefferson West will play in four-team districts. The McLouth Bulldogs will also play in a four-team district in class 3A. The rest of the county schools will move to a five-team district. JC West and Perry-Lecompton are also in each other’s district. In addition the Kaws move to the Big Seven League this year with the Tigers.
JCN, Valley Falls, and Oskaloosa will all play in a five-team district with Immaculata and Wathena.
Coach: Mike Paramore, 10th year
2009 record: 2-7
Head Coach Mike Paramore is still is looking for answers as to why his team fell off last year.
The Kaws have been building a winning tradition and after an appearance in the state title game in 2008 the team was not expecting a season without the playoffs let alone a 2-7 record.
““We’re still trying to put our finger on what happened last year,” Paramore said. “We just couldn’t find a way to get over the top and win.”
Paramore said his team did lose some senior talent off the 2008 team; however, the ball did not bounce the Kaws’ way in close games. Paramore said his team needed to get off to a good start last year to build confidence.
“Our inability to do that just made it tough,” he said. “We threw a lot of young kids into the fire and a lot of those kids are returning and in significant positions.”
The Kaws will move from the Kaw Valley League into the Big Seven League. Paramore said he isn’t making excuses but the Big Seven League does put the Kaws on a more even playing field this year with similar size schools.
Even though the move will put the Kaws on a more level ground, Paramore still thinks the competition will be tough.
“In the last 15 years those schools have been in the hunt,” he said. “It’s going to be some awfully good football.”
Paramore said the biggest difference will be that the Kaws will have more depth compared to other league teams. More than 60 kids are on the team’s roster, with mostly upper class men.
Jeremy Immenschuh will again start at quarterback after getting his first experience last year as a sophomore. He will also be joined by some experienced players at the skill positions and on the line.
Although there is a lot of experience, Paramore said there are still some key battles going on in practice for starting positions.
“Those guys are fighting for a spot and they understand that,” he said.
Paramore said he has high confidence in his team bouncing back this year just from what he has seen in his player’s attitudes.
“I know they’re hungry to get back to playing like the teams before them that they saw coming up through middle school instead of struggling like the team last year,” he said.
Valley Falls Dragons
Coach: Rod Bunde, 18th year
2009 record: 6-5
The Dragons had an impressive regular season last year winning their district with one game to play in the season.
The Dragons had a good start to the post season beating Troy 40-8 before being toppled by St. Mary’s 42-8 in their next game.
Head Coach Rod Bunde said a lot of his players will have to step up this year if his team is going to make it back to the post season.
Bunde will be experienced at quarterback with senior Alex Lederer returning as the starter. There are nine other seniors on the team along with 11 juniors, however, Bunde said last year’s team also had a lot of seniors.
The team will see new starters at some key skill positions in addition to replacing both starting tackles. However, Bunde said although they will be new starters this year, the players did get some experience last year and took advantage of an opportunity to play.
“We had some situations where people were actually injured so a lot of people got experience,” Bunde said.
Getting the extra playing time for the players was not by design but Bunde said it has worked out for this year’s team.
Even though there are some key positions to replace, Bunde is still confident in his team. Two years ago the team made the post season and last year won a game. Bunde hopes to keep it going.
“Hopefully we can stay healthy and some good things will happen for us,” he said.
This year the Dragons move to a five-team district with JCN and Oskaloosa.
“Every night is going to be competitive and you don’t want to overlook anyone,” he said.
Coach: Scott Whaley, fifth year
2009 record: 7-3
The Oskaloosa Bears look to continue to improve under Head Coach Scott Whaley in his fifth season.
Last year the Bears made the post season but had an early exit at the hands of Rossville 51-8.
Now that his team has some playoff experience, Whaley thinks they are ready to move forward.
“I think the kids are ‘Been there, done that and let’s see what else is out there,’” Whaley said. “They’re looking to get back to the playoffs and have more success.”
Whaley said some starting positions will have to be filled and some players are moving around to different positions.
“Some of those guys are going to get a chance to show what they can do because of a couple of spots that we don’t have kids coming back in,” he said.
Oskaloosa will also move to a five -team district format this year. In addition the Bears will get to face their rival McLouth this Friday to open the season. Whaley said his players are looking forward to hitting someone besides teammates.
“Right now they’re just wanting to get out there and get that first game under their belt,” he said.
“McLouth is a big rival so it shouldn’t be to hard to get focused on them,” he added. “To get one of them out of the gate is pretty big. It gets the kids excited but it’s the first game so they’ll be pretty motivated no matter what.”
Whaley said that in addition to playing McLouth the Bears are also looking forward to playing other county rivals, JCN and Valley Falls.
“You’ve got to look at those rivals and the two closest schools to you,” he said. “They’re making progress so we want to make sure we’re getting better too.”
Jefferson West Tigers
Coach: Steve Johnson, fifth year
2009 record: 7-4
The Tigers will need strong play from a new quarterback this year if they want to return to the post season.
Dalton Dean, a senior this year, will begin the season as the starter for the first time.
Although Dean got some playing time last year, he’ll be able to lean on an experienced group of skill players returning.
“It makes it kind of nice to break in a new quarterback when you don’t have to put as much on his shoulders,” Head Coach Steve Johnson said.
Johnson said although his quarterback is starting for the first time, he’s not worried.
“It’s not like he’s new to the position,” he said. “We just had a senior ahead of him last year.”
Johnson said although he has 60 players this year, his team is still not as deep as last year, however, that does not change expectations.
“Our expectations haven’t changed,” he said. “We continue to grow and get better on both sides of the ball each year.”
Coach: Mark McMillan, 17th year
2009 record: 2-7
Head Coach Mark McMillan will depend on some of his experienced players. The last two seasons the Chargers have finished 2-7.
The Chargers are looking to rebound this year to the more winning ways of the past.
The Chargers return six lettermen on the offensive side of the ball and five lettermen to the defensive side of the ball.
McMillan said he is seeing optimism in practice, especially from his seniors.
“Right now they’re showing a lot of heart and determination,” he said. “Our skill positions are stepping up.”
McMillan said last year his team completely changed their offense to go to a more spread attack but as the season went on the offense became more balanced and that the team has a good foundation to build on with some underclassmen getting significant experience last year.
Defensively McMillan says he has some concerns.
“We need for our underclassmen to gain experience early in the season,” he said.
Overall McMillan said hard work over the summer and last year’s experience should net more wins.
“With one year of experience with our new offensive philosophy behind us, we should be more competitive this year if we can maintain the total team effort like we have in the past,” he said.
McMillan said the Chargers’ first two games against Pleasant Ridge and Effingham will tell him where his team is at.
“We’re going to know where we’re at real early,” he said.
Coach: Chris Stewart, third year
2009 record: 1-8
The Bulldogs took a small step backward last year under Head Coach Chris Stewart’s second year but the experience gained is what he is hoping will turn into more wins.
Stewart said the problem the last couple of years has been a lack of a senior class. This year’s team has only two seniors but 10 juniors. Consequently, Stewart said his team has also lacked size on the lines where many of his players have to play both ways with only 26 players on the team.
“A lot of these kids have been playing because there has not been a large upper class the last two years,” he said. “Many were playing as freshman and are experienced.”
In addition to experience, Stewart said his players are also growing. Stewart said his team will make the biggest leaps on defense because of the growth.
“They’ve been working real hard and they’ve been in the weight room,” he said. “They’re getting a lot more aggressive because we have more experience.
“You get that natural growth,” he added. “Now they’re catching on and they’re not hesitant to go and hit kids and do the things you need to have on defensive play.”
The Bulldogs also struggled offensively last year. Marc Walbridge started at quarterback as a freshman and will get the nod again this year. Stewart said his offensive line also lacks size but will make up for that in experience.
Stewart also said his team must work hard in practice this year.
“Each day during practice they have to make some improvement,” he said. “Then on Friday nights it takes care of itself.”
Stewart said his kids are also pumped up about facing Oskaloosa this Friday to begin the season.
“I think this year the kids are pretty excited about it,” he said. “The coaches are pretty excited about it to see Oskie right at the beginning as opposed to the end.”
2009 football records
Valley Falls 6-5
Jefferson West 7-4
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