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2016 Prep Football Preview

By: Warren Mayes


Last Friday, the first kickoff of the high school season set in motion a time-honored tradition of meeting on the grid iron, but who will the title as best team in the state? Only time will tell.

Fort Zumwalt North enjoyed the best season in the school’s history and the Panthers are ready for their encore. Coach Joe Bacon’s Panthers finished 11-1 last season, reaching the Class 5 quarterfinals.

Cade Brister will be a senior at Fort Zumwalt North this season. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Brister rushed for 1,523 yards and scored 32 touchdowns at quarterback. He also threw for another six scores. On the other side of the ball, Brister made 71 tackles and grabbed five interceptions as a starting safety.

The Panthers have five starters back on each side the ball.

There is a changing of the guard at Francis Howell. Cory Snyder is the head coach of the Vikings after a successful run at Westminster Christian Academy. Francis Howell finished 10-1 last season, reaching the Class 6 quarterfinals under coach Bryan Koch, who stepped down after nine years at the helm.

As Westminster’s head coach for five years, Snyder led the Wildcats to a 44-17 finish and reached the Class 4 semifinals last fall. Snyder welcomes back three starters on offense and four on defense from last year’s Vikings.

The Fort Zumwalt West Jaquars ended 2015 at 7-4. Coach Neil Nowack has five starters back on offense and six on defense.

Another new head coach in the area this fall is Brett Bevill, who takes over the reins at Francis Howell North, replacing Brandon Gregory. Bevill, a 2002 graduate of Francis Howell North, has spent the last eight years on the Fort Zumwalt East coaching staff. Gregory, who spent four seasons with Francis Howell North, left to become the head coach at Cardinal Ritter.

The districts also are new this fall, beginning a two-year cycle of district competition that means some fresh match-ups in most cases.

Meanwhile, here is a look at area teams with insight from the coaches:

 

DUCHESNE PIONEERS

2015 record: 1-9. Finished fourth at 1-4 in Athletic Archdiocesan Association Large School Division.

Coach: Charlie Elmendorf, entering 22nd year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Cory Elmendorf, Pat Steagall, Shane VanDiest, Doug Rothfuss and Lendon Ehlmann

Returning starters: 6 offense; 7 defense

Offense: Option

Defense: 4-3, 4-4

Players to watch: OL Matt Thiele, OL Sam Agnew, RB/LB Louis DeGuentz, SE/DE Adam Moore, TE/DT Luke Loewenstein, QB/DB Jake Korba and RB/DB Ben Wilson

Newcomers expected to contribute: OL/DL Kevin Kerkemeyer, OL/DL Vince DiFatta, C/LB Killian Padavan, WR/DB TJ Haeffner, OL/DL Quinn Fox, OL/DL Blake Rufkhar and RB/LB Tim Goetges

Team strengths: We will be strong offensively and have a solid special teams.

Goals: Play disciplined football, improve every week and avoid injuries.

Favorites to win the AAA Large Schools: St. Francis Borgia

Elmendorf’s final thought: “We are excited about this season. We have had a good offseason. Our team attitude and work ethic has been very good.”

 

FRANCIS HOWELL VIKINGS

2015 record: 10-1. Finished 5-0 to win GAC South.

Coach: Cory Snyder, entering first year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Mike Muench, Justin Schmidt, Jason Skidmore, John Locke, Pat Doering, Mark Schopp, Brad Livingston, Mark Malawey, Carl Wayne and Malach Radigan

Returning starters: 3 offense; 4 defense

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: QB McGwire Dean,  RB Alex Jones, RB Davion Sanderson, LB/RB Jack Flynn, WR Johnny Krone, WR Daylon Dalton and DB Jalen Williams

Newcomers expected to contribute: Almost all are newcomers.

Team strengths: Not sure.

Goals: Improve every week, play great defense, continue to build on the Francis Howell football tradition established by those that came before.

Favorites to win the GAC South: Francis Howell, Timberland and Zumwalt West

Snyder’s final thought: “I’m really looking forward to starting my first season as a Viking. The team has worked hard all summer and are starting to put things together. There will be a lot of new faces on the field to start the season so we will really need to focus on continually improving week to week throughout the year.”

 

FRANCIS HOWELL CENTRAL SPARTANS

2015 record: 2-8. Finished tied for third at 2-3 in GAC South Conference.

Coach: Pete Eberhardt, entering second year as head coach

Returning starters: 8 offense; 5 defense

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: We don’t have any standout players.

Newcomers expected to contribute: Not sure, but we will see.

Team strengths: We will have a lot of returners on offense.

Goals: Have a team GPA of 3.0. Take each game one at a time.

Favorites to win the GAC South: Timberland and Francis Howell

Eberhardt’s final thought: “We are very excited to see what our players can do this year. We were very young last year and will still be young this year. It will be fun to watch these guys improve as the season moves along.”

 

FRANCIS HOWELL NORTH KNIGHTS

2015 record: 3-7. Finished tied for third at 2-3 in GAC South Conference.

Coach: Brett Bevill, entering first year as head coach

Assistant coaches:  Ryan Von Felt, Arty Johnson, Charles Lott, Sam Davis, Ryan Darks, Kurt Kruse, Mike Bevill and Mike Castro

Returning starters: 5 offense; 4 defense

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: RB Donnell Hawkins, QB Conor Gallagher, QB/SS Aidan McDaniel and OLB Bryce McDaniel

Newcomers expected to contribute: Numerous underclassmen will contribute.

Team strengths: We work to win every practice, and are coming together as one unit.

Goals: Win at practice every day. Win week one.

Favorites to win the GAC South: Francis Howell

Bevill’s final thought: “We are very excited with how far the team has progressed through the summer and through our first weeks of practice. We look forward to our home opener, and want to make the school proud of our efforts.”

 

FORT ZUMWALT EAST LIONS

2015 record: 4-6. Finished tied for second at 2-2 in GAC Central.

Coach: Scott Eacret, entering 10th year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Bryan Beerman, Rob Hawkins, Jim Klevorn, Don Morris, Don Philips, Marvin Byrd III, Wally Ferguson, James Wofford and Alex Zangriles

Returning starters: 4 offense; 4 defense

Offense: Pistol spread

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: To be determined.

Newcomers expected to contribute: To be determined.

Team strengths: Have hard workers and they are coachable.

Goals: To improve on last year’s record.

Favorites to win the GAC Central: Fort Zumwalt North

Eacret’s final thought: “Last year was our first losing season since we have had seniors. Our players are very determined to restore the roar.”

 

FORT ZUMWALT NORTH PANTHERS

2015 record: 11-1. Finished 4-0 to win GAC Central.

Coach: Joe Bacon, entering ninth year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Marty Robinson, Carl Scharf, Ellis Brister, Karl Odenwald, Brandon Whitmore, Tony Scoles, Josh Cooper and Brian Haub

Returning starters: 6 offense; 6 defense

Offense: Spread option

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: QB/S Cade Brister, OL/DL Alex Jetton, WR Zach Stanner, RB/CB Deiondre Stockton, RB/S Jake Cecil and OL/DL Zak Steele

Newcomers expected to contribute: OL/DL Kader Ndiaye, RB/DB Jack Ederer, OL/DL Trevor Olson, WR/LB Jacob Triplett, RB/LB Bryce Rowles, LB Mareon Lowery, WR/LB Kyle Mallett, OL/DL Eli Paraham and WR/DB Vernell Rue

Team strengths: Had some great players graduate but several young players with extensive experience returning. Good work ethic.  They know what it takes to win on a consistent basis.

Goals: Play great football in all three phases of the game for 48 minutes every single week. Always be the hardest working and classiest team on the field. Play as far into November as our talent will allow us.

Favorites to win the GAC Central: Whatever team performs the best week in and week out.

Bacon’s final thought: “This is a special group of players that are coming off of the best season in school history. They have put in a lot of work this offseason and they understand the commitment necessary to be one of the top teams in the area and in Class 5. There are no guarantees from week to week but we believe that if we play up to our potential and stay committed to our standards we’ll have a solid opportunity to come away with a victory every Friday night.”

 

FORT ZUMWALT SOUTH BULLDOGS

2015 record: 6-4. Finished 2-2 to tie for second in GAC Central.

Coach: Scott Fulton, entering 10th year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Ben Burnett, Jason Caimi, Chris Galvin, Prentice Henderson, Vince Licameli, Eric Mitchell, Jamal Thompson and Maurice Vick

Returning starters: 5 offense; 4 defense

Offense: Power spread

Defense: 4-3

Players to watch: OL/DL Bryan Schack, OL/DL Austin Parres, OL/DL Blake Bennett, RB/DB Channon Ross, QB Drake Whaley, TE/LB Harrison Stephan and TE/DE Brendan Pursell

Newcomers expected to contribute: TE/DE Grant Jacobs, TE/DE Sam Weir, WR/DB Austin Denson, RB/DB RJ Keen, WR/DB Collin MItchison, RB/DB Jalen Whitfield, OL/DL Andrew Farley, TE/LB Jake Laffleur, WR/LB Dominic Licameli and OL/DL Luke Tucker

Team strengths: Offensive and defensive line. Seniors are very experienced. Many have played varsity since they were sophomores.

Goals: Improve weekly and be the best that we can be.

Favorites to win the GAC Central: Fort Zumwalt North

Fulton’s final thought: “This team is great group of young men with tremendous work habits. We hope to have an excellent season.”

 

FORT ZUMWALT WEST JAGUARS

2015 record: 7-4. Finished second at 3-1 in GAC South.

Coach: Neil Nowack, entering fourth year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Ben Pike, Tim Fine, Jeff Auten, Doug Brown, Ric Troupe, Kollin Groves, Tyler Horner, Anthony Farley, Mike Rimmer, Dan Hayes and Dan Zull

Returning starters: 5 offense; 6 defense

Offense: Spread – no huddle

Defense: 4-2-5

Players to watch: OL Michael Schlottach, DL Nate Barnett, S Tyler Eckman, CB Jhaidyn Brown, OL Michael Fine, WR Marquis Majors, WR Josh White, WR Logan Williams, DL Jordan Williams, LB Matt Harris and CB Dylan Williams

Newcomers expected to contribute: QB Jake Verschoore, RB Zhiyir McCloud, S Jayce Guion, DL Jake Stern, DL Sam Wolfe and LB Max Zuccarello

Team strengths: Great team chemistry and a very strong work ethic.

Goals: Get better every day.

Favorites to win the GAC South: Francis Howell

Nowack’s final thought: “We have a tremendous group of young men out this season that have shown a great work ethic throughout the offseason. I’m extremely excited to see how we grow and develop as a team and see what type of strides we can make throughout the season.”

 

CHRISTIAN EAGLES

2015 record: 5-6. Finished third at 2-2 in AAA Small Schools Division.

Coach: Andy Hare, entering eighth year as head coach

Returning starters: 9 offense; 8 defense

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: WR, OLB Colton Carlisle, SB/CB Blake Huskey, CB/SB Krisna Mays, WR/OLB Ryan Norwine, T/MLB Tyler Rodriquez, FB/OLB JJ Simon, G/C Jordan Mosher, C/DT Zach Kellam, T/DT Connor Barton, OLB/FB Jared Drury, K/P Zach Harding, WR/FS Evan Soell, QB/CB Brady Tolle and G/DT Ryan Williams

Team strengths: We are a senior-led team with good athletes and experience.  Should be exciting to watch.

Goals: Moving up to the AAA Large Schools Division this season, so the goal is to be competitive and represent our school with class and discipline.

Hare’s final thought: “We are extremely blessed and excited to kick off this season on our new turf field.”

 

ORCHARD FARM EAGLES

2015 record: 4-7. Finished fourth at 2-3 in GAC North.

Coach: Eric Schroer, entering third year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Blake Arnette, Steve Menteer, Mike Turpen, Brad Yount and Mike Hohe

Returning starters: 9 offense; 9 defense

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 4-3

Players to watch: WR/CB Cole Kline, QB DJ Kemp, DE Nick Wright, DE Anthony Dandino, S/WR Dylan Williams, WR/CB AJ Hibbler, RB/LB Caleb Grimes, WR/S/PR Cade Grimes and LB Matt Lewis

Newcomers expected to contribute: WR Connor Jones, CB Blake Weber and K Ethan Kaiser

Team strengths: We will have great depth and experience on both sides of the ball. Our leadership has improved greatly as this group has matured. We expect to play a physical style of football on defense, to have a diverse attack on offense, and to make explosive plays on special teams.

Goals: We will represent our school and community with respect. Our goal is to continue to develop a strong work ethic and a willingness to sacrifice individual comforts for group successes. We will continue to become a true family unit that can rely on one another. While doing these things, we believe we will have the opportunity to make a strong run at a conference title and into the playoffs.

Favorites to win the GAC North: St. Charles West

Schroer’s final thought: “We are excited for this season. We have a deep senior class that has worked extremely hard to develop their abilities over the last three years. With a strong schedule in front of us, we know that we will have every possible opportunity to establish ourselves as a high quality program, to continue to develop our abilities, and to fully prepare ourselves for the playoffs.”

 

ST. CHARLES PIRATES

2015 record: 5-5. Finished third at 2-2 in GAC North.

Coach: Joe Leibner, entering seventh season as head coach

Assistant coaches: Brad Bichel, Paul Imbierowicz, Jim Scott, Justin Heinin, Nigel Kinworthy and Kyle Bert

Returning starters: 3 offense; 4 defense

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-2

Players to watch: RB Jordan Gladney and WR Jaylin Williams

Newcomers expected to contribute: QB Cody Thorne

Team strengths: We’re quick.

Goals: Compete with toughness every game.

Favorites to win the GAC North: Warrenton or Orchard Farm

Leibner’s final thought: “This is a great group of kids. They’re a lot of fun to coach, and I can’t wait to see them run around on Fridays this fall.”

 

ST. CHARLES WEST WARRIORS

2015 record: 5-5. Finished 4-0 to win GAC North.

Coach:  Gary Strauss, entering 17th year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Don Baldwin and Nuru Allen

Returning starters: 5 offense; 4 defense

Offense: Wishbone

Defense: 4-4 and 4-3

Players to watch: OL/DL Marcus Paddack, RB/LB Alarenz Stanton, OL/DL Wil Gamache, TE/LB Reid Williams, SE/DB, Rashaad Chatman, DB/RB Darius Morrison and QB/LB Matt Frazer

Newcomers expected to contribute: QB Cameren Jett,  RB/DB Ronnie Foster,  DB/SE, Nick Bazzell, OL/DL Leo Ortiz and LB/RB Brandon Carbray

Team strengths: Team speed.

Goals: To improve steadily throughout the season.

Favorites to win the GAC North: Orchard Farm and St. Charles

Strauss final thought: “We will be a young but experienced team. We have a lot of competition for playing time so we should have very intense practices to prepare for the season.”

 

ST. DOMINIC CRUSADERS

2015 record: 6-6. Finished third at 2-2 in Athletic Archdiocesan Association Large School Division.

Coach: Blake Markway, entering third year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Jim Schottmueller, Ken Moore, Colby Davis, Phil Brotherton, Bob Hennekes and Brian Graf

Returning starters: 5 offense; 8 defense

Offense: Pro-style – I-formation

Defense: 4-2-5

Players to watch: MLB/FB Jacob Jones, RB/OLB Jake Larson, CB/QB Dominic Demerath, DE/G Max Messer and CB/WR Alex Hoff

Newcomers expected to contribute: OL/DL Josh Stiffler, FB/LB and Theo Pardee

Team strengths: Our defense was really strong by the end of the season last year and carried us in our run to the district championship. We return eight players who started on that side of the ball and expect them to be the strength of our team led by defensive coordinator Ken Moore. Offensively, we had a really strong run game last season led by RB Jacob Larson who returns for his senior season behind a new offensive line. Under offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Schottmueller, we feel like running the ball will again be our strength offensively, with an added run and pass threat dimension with senior Dominic Demerath at quarterback.

Goals: Continue to improve each week and be playing our best football in October and November.

Favorites to win the AAA: St. Francis Borgia, St. Dominic and O’Fallon Christian will be the strongest three that return the most players.

Markway’s final thought: “This being the third year in our program, I am very excited to see how so many of these kids have developed in our strength in conditioning program. For our juniors on down, it is the only thing they know and they are going to be pivotal to our success this season if filling in several spots for us. With their dedication they’ve shown to the weight room, I know they’ll be ready this fall. For our seniors, they are an outstanding group of young men with high character that have really been leaders since their sophomore season in their commitment to what we have asked. I hope to see them continue to improve and end their high school career with a great season in 2016.”

 

WENTZVILLE HOLT INDIANS

2015 record: 0-10. Finished last at 0-4 in GAC Central Conference.

Coach: Ethan Place, entering second year as head coach

Returning starters: 4 offense; 2 defense

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 3-3

Players to watch: WR Joe Deuser, LB Zashon Johnson and QB Drew Law

Newcomers expected to contribute:  DL Michael Johnson,  OL/DL Tevon Kwon and RB Cole Mueller

Team strengths: We’ll have a big front seven on defense and a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball. I believe we’re a much improved program from last year and look forward to seeing the team grow throughout the season.

Goals: Play disciplined football, compete and be physical.

Favorites to win the GAC Central: Fort Zumwalt North

Place’s final thought: “I’m excited to see the boys compete and see their potential. The team has put in the work this offseason and I ready to see them on the field.”

 

WENTZVILLE TIMBERLAND WOLVES

2015 record: 3-7. Tied for third at 2-3 in GAC South Conference.

Coach: Edward Gilreath, entering fifth year as head coach

Assistant coaches: Justin Shiroma, Mike Sevier, Warren Honore, Steven D’Antonio, Tom Papez, Sean Manning, Clint Tanner, Jeff Renz and Scott Johnston

Returning starters: 6 starters: 2 offense; 4 defense

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-4

Players to watch: We have a great group of seniors that have been working extremely hard and are leading this team in the right direction.

Newcomers expected to contribute: Our underclassmen have bought in to our senior leadership and will step in to fill any gaps there may be.

Team strengths: We will fly around and be physical until the clock reads 0:00.

Goals: To improve every week and play our best football in November.

Favorites to win the GAC South: Francis Howell and Zumwalt West

Gilreath’s final thought: “The team has been working hard all offseason and we’re all ready for the season to begin.”

 

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