Garden Plain football: Eventful 2011 season in the past
If Garden Plain is circling the Oct. 5 football game against Conway Springs on its calendar, its only because the Owls are circling all the games.
Certainly that one carries significant intrigue because the teams split two games last season and have one of the fiercest rivalries in the state. But Garden Plains schedule can be treacherous in other places, too, so focusing on just one could be dangerous.
The revenge factor will play a role in the Week 6 game since Conway Springs beat the Owls in the Class 3A semifinals after Garden Plain eked out a regular-season win. Garden Plain wont let the biggest game on the schedule become the biggest, though, until it happens.
"Its in the back of our heads probably a little bit, but for the most part we focus on week-to-week," first-year Garden Plain coach Brad McCormick said. "Its a schedule that Id have to say is a little bit tougher than it has been in the past, from top to bottom, and were not going to overlook anyone."
Garden Plain survived, and thrived last season in the face of adversity, going 11-1 before the loss to eventual champion Conway Springs ended its season one win shy of the 3A title game.
Former Owls coach Todd Puetz was arrested in October, three days after Garden Plains loss to Sedgwick. He awaits trial on child sex-related charges.
The stability McCormick offered in the midst of chaos within the football program and the community was noticeable. Garden Plains entire coaching staff is also returning, including interim coach Greg Gegen, a longtime assistant who led the Owls to four straight wins last season.
"The big thing is our whole staff is still here," McCormick said. "The one guy we did pick up, William Bergkamp, used to play here and he played at Friends University. Hes a big knowledge guy on the (defensive) and (offensive) line for us, so that helps a lot."
As has been the hallmark of Garden Plain teams for years, this one will also feature a heavy running attack. The Owls lost leading rusher Joey Capul but have been successful in replacing top backs in the past.
This season the job of feature back falls to Dylan Clark, also a standout defensive back. Hell be aided by an offensive line that returns All-Central Plains performer Tyler Puetz, and by other running backs such as Dakota Fisher.
"I dont want to put anything up on anybodys poster board, but weve got two returning running backs that had over 600 yards apiece," McCormick said. "I know Capul had 1,800 yards last year, but having those two guys back, theyre going to get some more carries."