By JAMES JORDAN
The Wellington Daily News
Hopes are high for a better season at Wellington High School. Last year, in coach Tyler Ryan's first year , the team went 2-7 and took its lumps along the way.
The continuity of having the same system two years in a row, along with a solid group of returning starters, has the Crusaders believing the can have a good season.
Ryan said the first couple of games would be very important for his team.
"It is tough to dig yourself a hole early," he said.
But those early games will set the tone for the season, and some wins will give the team confidence that it can win.
Ryan said if the team can do well in its first few games, it will have a chance in the district race.
Quarterback Trevor Nance started half the season last year, and was honorable mention all-league. He improved on that in the off season, and Ryan said the junior quarterback is set to have a good year.
"I really think by the end of the year he will be one of the top quarterbacks in the Wichita area," Ryan said.
Nance does not run a lot, but throws the ball very well. Ryan said Nance will get even better as he gets a better feel for reading coverage's and matchups.
But even with a solid quarterback, the Crusaders are not about to become a spread-offense that throws the ball all over the field. Ryan said the team will throw more this year, but the running game is still the staple of the offense.
"We will use the run to set up the pass," he said.
Junior Austin Dunn leads the running back corps. On the first play of a scrimmage last week, he broke off a long run and had several strong runs.
Connor Phelps, a sophomore, and junior senior Andrew Horn, and possibly Jaden Hines also figure into the rotation at running back and at the wingback spot.
Ryan said he has four of five players in the mix at running back, but still, he said there is not a lot of depth at the position.
Collin Reichenberger, a junior, leads the receivers.
"He will be a real threat for us on the edge," Ryan said. After Reichenberger there is not a great deal of speed, so there will be a committee of receivers rotating during games.
Brenton Troutman, a junior, will be at the tight end spot, along with William Staley.
Three offensive linemen return and should be one of the strong points of the team. Returners are Tyson Hodson, Skylar Brand and Ben DeJarnett. Taylor Lamkin and Trey Coulter also are listed as starters on the line.
Page 2 of 2 - Vincent Ast and Dalton Holt are newcomers to the offensive line, and they have performed well in the preseason.
"Depth on the line is a concern, but we should be decent there," Ryan said.
Defensively Wellington will have a four-man front. They will likely add a defensive back to adjust to the trend fo more passing at the high school level.
Taylor Lamkin at defensive end, and Adam Condit at defensive tackle, are to returning starters to the defensive line. Lampkin will be one of the few players that will go both ways consistently.
Reichenberger is another player listed as a returning starter on defense, and could play on both sides of the ball.
Horn is listed as a linebaker and Nance at defensive back. PHelps and Troutman are also listed as defensive starters
The Crusaders will have about 16 regular starters, with several more players rotating during games.
Nance will also be the punter, which gives the team some interesting possibilities on fourth down.
Ryan said is team has some solid players at running back and receiver, but overall team speed is a concern, especially at the "skill" positions.
Andrew Pilkey and Hines are listed as starting linebackers.
Listed as defensive linemen starters are Dalton Holt, Adam Condit, Jason Norris and Vince Ast.