Maize football: Eagles hope depth holds up
The problem isn't going to be with talent, because that's there. Or putting in the work, because thats already been done. The problem, for Maize, is going to be with depth.
If the Eagles can stay healthy, they've got a good shot at making it back to the Class 6A playoffs for the first time since 2006, behind the strength of a core group of skill players, star quarterback Connor Lungwitz and five returning starters on defense.
If they can stay healthy.
"We don't have a lot of depth, Maize coach Gary Guzman said. A lot depends on how the kids respond to those challenges.
The Eagles have most of their weapons back at the skill positions senior running back Chase White ran for more than 800 yards last season, junior receiver Kendall Stewart is back and senior wide receiver Kavan Jobe tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the second game of the season but was Lungwitzs favorite target early.
The biggest question mark is on the offensive line, where only one starter returns in senior Gage Morgan.
Our offensive line last year did a great job of protecting (Lungwitz), Guzman said. We get one returning starter, and thats Gage.
On defense, senior Nick Benford (6-1, 265 pounds) is a difference-maker at defensive tackle.
He can really play, and for a big guy hes got great feet, Guzman said. He demands a double team when hes on the field. He could play defensive end, too, but we need him in the middle.
Maize fell just short in district play last season a 31-26 loss to Garden City kept them out of the playoffs. Weights and conditioning four days per week this summer from 6:30 to 8:30 in the morning should pay dividends, with the majority of starters in attendance.
As a coach, youre always trying to get kids to believe in themselves, to believe that they can win and see how far that goes, Guzman said. We have a very tough league and a very tough district. All the teams are good, so weve got to be better, too.
Coach: Gary Guzman, third season, 8-10
League: AV-CTL Division I
Last season: 5-4
Last five seasons: 17-29
Projected 2013 playoff team? Yes
Top skill players
|at Salina South||L,43-14|
|at Salina Central||W,28-21|
|at Garden City||L,31-26|
|Sept. 13||Salina South|
|Sept. 20||at Derby|
|Oct. 3||at Salina Central|
|Oct. 18||Garden City|
|Oct. 25||at Dodge City|
|Nov. 1||at Hutchinson|
Connor Lungwitz on his team
What Maize does well: I think we have some guys at the skill positions who have developed a real bond, through last season and the offseason.
What Maize has to improve: Were looking for more depth at some spots, and we need some backups to step up and show they can be ready to step into games when we need them.