Hennessey coach Rick Luetjen was deeply concerned about his team’s depth at running back last season.
When William Arndt went down with a season-ending injury in Week 6, Tabor Johns stepped in and solidified the spot with more than 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns.
This was following the Eagles’ loss of quarterback Dylan Hatchel to a season-ending injury that forced backup running back Tony Mendoza to take over.
“We kind of stumbled into it,” Luetjen said. “Sometimes we’re not very smart. I know it’s our job to try to play kids in the right spot, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. I would have never dreamed that he would have come on and did what he did last year.”
Johns is back along with senior Abe Ortega in the backfield, providing a potent 1-2 punch for the Eagles.
Hennessey is highly favored by opposing coaches to win District 2A-1, and it’ll be the running back depth the Eagles that’s key.
“We’re a little deeper there than we thought we were last year,” Luetjen said.
CHISHOLM TRYING TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM
Before last season, Chisholm was 6-24 since moving to Class 2A. That suddenly changed with the Longhorns going 9-2 last season.
Now, they’re hoping experience pays off this season.
Chisholm returns eight starters on each side of the ball and have a lot of team speed, coach Joey Reinart said.
Perhaps the best player is senior receiver/safety Austin Swann, who caught nine touchdown passes last season and had six interceptions. Reinart labeled Swann the best player in the school.
ALVA TRYING TO REPLACE STAR TRIO
Alva has to find the way to replace the output of three top players this season, and it’s leaving coaches with the feeling the Goldbugs will miss the playoffs.
Quarterback Ty Hooper, receiver Riley Hess and linebacker Cade Pfleider have both graduated following spectacular careers with big numbers.
Hooper completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,872 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, bringing his four-year total to 9,759 yards and 91 TDs. Hess caught 85 passes for 1,161 yards and 15 TDs last season, while also grabbing six interceptions on defense.
Pfleider had 142 tackles, four sacks and six interceptions last season.
Pawnee returns eight starters on offense and nine on defense, including 6-foot-4 receiver Caylan Biddy. … Newkirk doesn’t have much experience returning, but coach Bob Underwood says the team’s strength is outside linebacker led by Bleau Stopp.