High school football season is just around the corner — and SM East football fans should have plenty of reason to be getting excited, according to the area’s most prominent high school football analyst.
Sunflower League Football Blogger Eli Underwood, who has been offering detailed coverage of the league since 2008, put the Lancers second in his pre-season Power Rankings and predicts that they’ll go undefeated in the regular season. Traditional league powerhouse Olathe North, who the Lancers defeated in sub-state last year, took the top position in the rankings, with Underwood noting that they’ll be returning 17 starters from last year.
The Lancers will have plenty of veteran experience as well, though, with 16 starters from last year’s state runner-up campaign back in Columbia blue, black and white. Here’s Eli’s breakdown of the Lancers’ prospects this year:
Outlook: The Lancers, like Olathe North, will be bolstered by a wealth of returning talent. SM East returns 16 starters from the team that produced the best season in school history a season ago. Perhaps no player is more important than defensive end Kyle Ball (6-2, 235) who’s widely regarded as one of the state’s top defenders entering 2014. Returning at quarterback is Gunnar Englund (6-2, 185) who took most of the snaps during the Lancers’ 2013 playoff run. Slotbacks Sam Huffman (5-11, 185) and Jackson Gossick (6-0, 170) will bring up the rushing attack after combining for 833 rushing yards last year. Top receiver Alec Dean (6-4, 210) is back after catching 19 passes for 330 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior. The offensive line, which should be one of the best in the state, will be led by returning starters James Wooldridge (6-0, 205),Will Kaiser (5-11, 225) and Devin Price (6-2, 255). Defensively, Sam Williams (6-3, 210) will be playing bookend to Ball, while Sam Pottenger (6-0, 205) and junior Rider Terry (5-7, 165) return as inside linebackers after combining for 166 tackles and nine sacks a season ago. The secondary will be led by Charley White (6-0, 170) who recorded five interceptions in 2013, and returning starter Will Oakley (5-11, 175).
Concerns: Losing dominant defensive tackles Dominique Atkinson and Luis Adame to graduation could make the Lancers vulnerable up the gut if they don’t find suitable replacements.