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With football teams hosting their team camps and officially starting practice on Aug. 6, football is officially back.
Each week leading up to the start of the season we’ll take a look at one unit on the offensive and defensive side of the ball to preview Mid-Prairie, Highland and Lone Tree football.
The first defensive installment will preview defensive backs.
Mid-Prairie’s secondary is going to rely on strong performances from just a few players.
“To be honest it’s pretty thin,” Mid-Prairie coach Pete Cavanagh said. “Justin Schwartz, Grant Boyse and Tom Butters all had varsity experience last year and they’re in the mix there.”
Boyse will likely return to the safety spot and Schwartz will continue to play corner.
Last season Schwartz was fifth on the team with 31 tackles and one tackle for loss, Boyse had 30.5 tackles and Butters had 25.5 tackles.
Butters led the team in interceptions with three, Boyse had two and Schwartz had one.
Cavanagh said that players like Cole Davis, Zeb Danner and Brad Tornow will also play into the mix at the secondary position.
The Golden Hawk scheme is to stay conservative and prevent big plays.
“We’re mostly a zone scheme back there and play fairly conservative. Their job is to keep everything in front and tackle well,” Cavanagh said.
While he said the depth chart may be thin at the position, with three players returning heavy experience he expects the Mid-Prairie pass coverage to be much improved over the previous season.
As a unit they gave up 1,331 yards and 16 touchdowns while picking off eight passes.
All four of the Huskies starting defensive backs are back this year in Trey Lasek, Jordan Sosa, Bryce Waters and Mason McFarland.
The Cover 3 base defense the Huskies run will only be aided with the fact that the group has spent a year on the field together already and understand the responsibilities of second year coach Scott Morel’s system.
“They know our system going into the second year and they feel more comfortable,” Morel said. “They’re making reads and keying on the right person and getting to their drops.”
Lasek led Highland with two interceptions while McFarland had one. Sosa had 23.5 tackles on the season while Bryce Waters had 4.5.
Morel said that junior Derrick Sandburg has been working in at corner for the Huskies when needed.
The Lions will be looking toward experience as well from the leader of the group Avery Knock. Knock was third on the team in tackles with 52.5. He had one interception and recovered two fumbles.
Besides Knock, Lone Tree coach Aaron Bohr said a reshuffling of personnel will bring new starters. Likely filling in the secondary with Knock are players like Ryan Kirkpatrick and Alex Viner.
Kirkpatrick heads into his senior season this year and had 5.5 tackles last season. Viner, a sophomore, had two tackles in his freshman season.
Bohr said in 8-man football the secondary is even more crucial, because they have to serve as a last line of defense and with fewer players have to do so in open space more often.
“Defenders have to be much more disciplined and read their keys, because they often won’t have anyone to cover up for them when they make a mistake,” Bohr said.