Football 2014: Garden Plain Owls
There were times last season when the Garden Plain football team was forced to play without as many as eight starters.
That reason alone is why coach Brad McCormick thinks his team finished an uncharacteristic 4-5 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
Last season was going to be an adjustment, anyway, because the Owls lost so many key components from a 2012 team that went 11-1.
But after every passing week, somebody new was on Garden Plain’s injury report.
“The injuries just caught up with us,” McCormick said. “Heading into each week, we had no idea what we were going to be able to do scheme-wise.”
“One week we didn’t have the personnel to run our power running game and the next week we wouldn’t have the personnel to run our speed running game. We weren’t able to do what we wanted to do.”
Seven starters return on offense, including quarterback Alex Becker, who had three games of 220 total yards or more. Three starters on the offensive line are also back.
“Last year was kind of like a reloading year for us,” McCormick said. “We don’t want to reflect on it. We’re just looking forward to who we have back this season.”
McCormick is still trying to fill some gaps on a defensive unit that allowed 23 points per game – a number unheard of at Garden Plain. But much like the offensive line, the defense’s strength will come up front.
Ultimately, the Owls’ success will come down to health and surviving the Central Plains League, which McCormick thinks is as good as it has ever been.
“We want redemption this season,” McCormick said. “Things out of our control cost us last season. We want to get back to where we were.”
A LOOK AT GARDEN PLAIN
Coach: Brad McCormick, third season, 15-6
League: Central Plains League
Last season: 4-5
Last five seasons: 42-14
Projected 2014 playoff team? Yes
TOP SKILL PLAYERS
|at Belle Plaine||W,43-12|
|at Conway Springs||L,27-8|
|at Hutchinson Trinity||L,28-7|
|Sept. 5||at Cheney|
|Sept. 12||Belle Plaine|
|Sept. 19||Conway Springs|
|Sept. 26||at Independent|
|Oct. 3||at Chaparral|
|Oct. 17||Hutchinson Trinity|
|Oct. 24||at Halstead|
|Oct. 30||at Kingman|
Troy Puetz on his team
What Garden Plain does well: “Probably look for us to pass pretty good this season. We have all our wideouts returning and our quarterback has a pretty good arm. I feel we can pass pretty good. The only skill player we lost is Wyatt Lehner, so we should be able to run pretty good, too.”
What needs to improve: “I think we need to get some depth and not get injured. Last year we had so many players out. Not once did we have all four of our captains playing at the same time. Our defense just allowed way too many points. If we can improve on that, I think we’ll be pretty good.”