The Francis Howell Vikings came close to a trip to the Edward Jones Dome, losing in the Class 6 semifinals. They were an impressive 11-1 with a defense that never allowed more than two touchdowns in a game all year. Ryan Perkins led the defense with 136 tackles including 20 for a loss totaling 60 yards. He also had three sacks and three interceptions. Justin Perkins had 112 tackles, including 14 for 70 yards in losses. He also had three sacks and an interception, and is the punter, averaging 35 yards a punt. He also kicked 21 extra points.
St. Charles West went 11-3 last year and reached Class 4 semifinals under coach Gary Strauss. Running back Dre Kelly, who will be a senior, rushed for 905 yards on just 81 carries for an 11.5 average per attempt. He also caught 5 passes for 197 yards for a whopping 39.7 average per catch. Linebacker Austin Coffey, who will be a junior, had 113 tackles, two sacks and two fumble recoveries. As a fullback, he rushed for 225 yards on 26 carries.
Fort Zumwalt North went 10-2 last year and reached Class 5 quarterfinals. Several top players are back for coach Joe Bacon. Running back Camren Fullerton, who will be a senior, rushed for 776 yards and eight TDs. At linebacker, Fullerton had 83 tackles, including three for a loss, along with a sack, a fumble recovery and two interceptions. Linebacker Dacey Brister, who will be a senior, led defense with 177 tackles, including 15 for 72 yards in losses. He also had eight sacks and five fumble recoveries.
Fort Zumwalt West finished 7-4 last year. Running back Ethan Staskewicz, who will be a junior, rushed for 1,380 yards and scored 20 TDs. Overall, coach Neil Nowack has eight starters back.
Fort Zumwalt East went 8-4 and lost to Fort Zumwalt North in playoffs. A key returner for coach Scott Earet will be receiver/kicker/punter Dan Morris, who will be a senior. He caught 31 passes for 1,001 yards and 14 TDs. He had 37 extra points and 2 field goals. He averaged 41 yards a punt. On defense, he had 70 tackles and an interception.
Fort Zumwalt South went 6-4 last year and coach Scott Fulton has 13 starters back. Running back Cameron Henderson, who will be a senior, rushed 961 yards and scored 14 TDs last season. Quarterback Drake Whaley, who will be a junior, threw for 969 yards and nine TDs. He also rushed for 444 yards and four TDs.
Orchard Farm went 10-3 and reached Class 3 quarterfinals last year in coach Eric Schroer’s first season. He has nine starters back this fall.
Here is a look at the teams, with insight from the coaches:
2014 record: 2-8. Finished last in Archdiocesan Athletic Association Large Schools Division. Lost to Centralia in opening round of postseason.
Coach: Charlie Elmendorf, entering 21st year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Pat Steagall, Cory Elmendorf, Hank Barrere, Shawn Trower and Skye Sarnow
Returning starters: 9 on offense; 9 on defense
Offense: Multiple, option
Players to watch: QB Andrew Clark, OL Joe Dandridge, WR Alex Moore, OL Shane Loewenstein, OL Juniors Matt Thiele, OL Sam Agnew, RB Ben Wilson, FB Louis DeGuentz, TE Luke Loewenstein, LB Hunter Eisenbath, DE Jake Rolfes, LB Alex Moore, DB Nick Thiel, LB/DL Brice Edmondson, Jack Busken, LB Louis Deguentz and DB Jake Korba
Newcomers expected to contribute: OL Mike Schoen, DL Vince DiFatta, WR/DL Adam Moore and OL/DL Kevin Kirkmeyer
Team strengths: “We will be strong offensively and have a solid special teams.”
Goals: “Improve daily and weekly. Play disciplined football and eliminate turnovers and penalties committed last year. Win AAA conference title and advance in the playoffs.”
Final thought: “I am very excited for this season. We were very young last year and have had a very good offseason. The potential for this team is very good to be a solid and competitive group. The senior class is very solid and has some strong leadership. Injuries and staying healthy will be key for us.”
FORT ZUMWALT EAST LIONS
2014 record: 8-4. Finished second in Gateway Central Conference. Lost 41-7 to Fort Zumwalt North in third round of Class 5 postseason.
Coach: Scott Earet, entering ninth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Brett Bevill, Mike Bevill, Bryan Beerman, Rob Hawkins, Don Morris, Jim Klevorn, Kurt Kruse, Walter Ferguson, Don Philips and Brandon Barrett
Returning starters: 4 on offense; 5 on defense
Players to watch: To be determined.
Newcomers expected to contribute: To be determined.
Team strengths: “Attitude and effort.”
Goals: “To win in week one.”
Final thought: “We look forward to the start of each new season. Our expectations are to improve on the year before.”
FORT ZUMWALT NORTH PANTHERS
2014 record: 10-2. Won Gateway Central Conference. Lost 20-13 to Battle, of Columbia, in Class 5 quarterfinals.
Coach: Joe Bacon, entering eighth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Josh Cooper, Marty Robinson, Carl Scharf, Ellis Brister, Karl Odenwald, Tony Scoles, Brian Haub and Brandon Whitmore
Returning starters: 4 on offense; 8 on defense
Offense: Spread, triple option
Players to watch: LB Dacey Brister, LB/RB Tay Robinson, RB Camren Fullerton, DL/OL Blake Wilson, OL/DL Braden Harris and QB/DB Cade Brister
Newcomer expected to contribute: RB/DB Marcus Jones
Team strengths: “Experience on defense and senior leadership.”
Goals: “Continue building upon the foundation we’ve laid the last several years. Be a top contender in our conference and our district.”
Final thought: “Our boys are excited to compete in the GAC Central and are looking forward to the challenge. The seniors have done an outstanding job of leading this offseason and are determined to show that our recent accomplishments weren’t a fluke.”
FORT ZUMWALT SOUTH BULLDOGS
2014 record: 6-4. Finished third in Gateway Central Conference. Lost 48-27 to Parkway North in in first round of Class 5 postseason.
Coach: Scott Fulton, entering ninth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Prentice Henderson, Maurice Vick, Jeff Auten, Jason Caimi, Chris Galvin, Eric Mitchell, David Matthews, Todd Biri, Ben Burnett and Vince Licameli
Returning starters: 6 on offense; 7 on defense
Offense: Spread read option
Players to watch: DJ Burlage, Cameron Henderson, Marcus Forrest, Logan Woods, Austin Abdin, Drake Whaley, Austin Parres, Channon Ross, Harrison Stephan and Blake Bennett
Newcomers expected to contribute: Kai Collier, Mark Hurns, Jake Simpson, Austin Denson, Bryan Schack and Malik Forrest
Team strengths: “Good returning experience on offense and defense.”
Goals: “#BGreat – this year’s one word slogan.”
Final thought: “This year’s team has tremendous ability and great work habits. Team chemistry and culture is developing. This could be one of the best teams in school history. It will be up to them to perform on the field and reach their potential.”
FORT ZUMWALT WEST JAGUARS
2014 record: 7-4. Finished second in Gateway South Conference. Lost 42-28 to Jefferson City in second round of Class 6 postseason.
Coach: Neil Nowack, entering third year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Ben Pike, Tim Fine, Bryan Baldwin, Doug Light, Chad Towers, Dan Zull, Kollin Groves, Anthony Farley, Ric Troupe, Mike Rimmer, Dan Hayes, Doug Brown, Jami Webb and Tyler Horner
Returning starters: 4 on offense; 4 on defense
Players to watch: QB Jake Strauss, RB Ethan Staskewicz, OL Randy Davidson, OL Michael Schlottach, DB Donovan Killeen, LB Christian Kerr, DE Kyle Eley and DE Ryan Knapp
Newcomers expected to contribute: DL Nate Barnett, LB Matt Harris, WR Marquis Majors and WR Josh White
Team strengths: “They compete very hard and have a lot of room to grow.”
Goals: “Get better every day. Play hard and physical every play.”
Final thought: “We have a great group of seniors returning and a good mix of younger players. I’m excited to see how we grow as a team from week one to the end of the season. I believe we have the opportunity to really develop and improve throughout the season if guys are willing to work hard every day.”
FRANCIS HOWELL VIKINGS
2014 record: 11-1. Won Gateway South Conference. Lost 25-20 to Rockhurst, of Kansas City, in Class 6 semifinals.
Coach: Bryan Koch, entering ninth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Defensive coordinator/defensive line Justin Schmidt, JV defensive coordinator/linebackers John Locke, freshman defensive coordinator/safeties Jason Skidmore, defensive line Adam Boettcher, cornerbacks Jacob Cole, safeties Pat Doering, linebackers Tim Thomas, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks Zach Wierzbicki, JV offensive coordinator/running backs Mark Malawey, freshman offensive coordinator/running backs Brad Livingston, special teams coordinator/wide receivers Mike Muench and offensive line Malach Radigan
Returning starters: 2 on offense; 7 on defense
Offense: Spread option
Team strengths: “We have worked very hard this offseason. The kids have shown that they want to win games by working in the winter, spring, and summer. Now, we have to put it in place on Friday nights.”
Goals: “We want to get better every day. Better at being men of character, better in the classroom, better on the football field.”
Final thought: “The GAC is quickly becoming a very powerful football conference, and every team plays hard, fast and physical every Friday night. This is a testament to our kids and coaches. I truly believe there is no better conference to play in. Every game has the potential to be a heavyweight fight. The kids are always well coached and well prepared. The best thing about our conference is the sportsmanship displayed at every game and in every level of football.”
FRANCIS HOWELL CENTRAL SPARTANS
2014 record: 2-8. Finished fifth in Gateway South Conference. Lost 65-0 to Hazelwood Central in first round of Class 6 postseason.
Coach: Pete Eberhardt, entering first year as head coach.
Players to watch: “We are all kind of the same.”
Team strengths: “Team unity.”
Goals: “Compete and get better every day.”
Final thought: “We are very excited to see what our team can do this year.”
FRANCIS HOWELL NORTH KNIGHTS
2014 record: 6-4, Finished fourth in Gateway South Conference. Lost 45-0 to eventual state champion CBC in second round of Class 6 postseason.
Coach: Brandon Gregory, entering fourth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Myron Fletcher, Benny Anderson, Charles Lott, Sam Davis, Arty Johnson, Ryan Darks and Ryan Vonfeldt
Returning starters: 5 on offense; 10 on defense
Players to watch: Kyle Springli, RhéNeze Galtney, Moe Hill, Donnell Hawkins, Jake Viehman and Jarrett O’Brien
Newcomers expected to contribute: Maurice Massey and Malik Johnson
Team strengths: “Defense with all three all-conference linebackers returning.”
Goals: “Stay healthy and compete week in and week out.”
Final thought: “This will be a special year for me especially since my seniors were freshmen when I first took over this program. I’m excited for them as a whole.”
LUTHERAN ST. CHARLES COUGARS
2014 record: 3-7. Finished last in the Archdiocesan Athletic Association Small Schools Conference. Lost 20-19 to Macon in second round of Class 3 postseason.
Coach: Arlen Harris. Entering first year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Brandon Tripp, Brent Gossett, Angel Rubio, Brad Schenck, Chris Schaefer, Zach Garrett, Tony Nunn.
Returning starters: 6 on offense; 4 on defense
Players to watch: Brad Williams and Hunter Edwards
Newcomer expected to contribute: Bryce French
Team strengths: “Special teams.”
Goals: “Play fast and physical football.”
Final thought: “We are excited to display championship football. This was a tough offseason where coaches ad players worked relentlessly to change the attitude and environment of Cougar football. Each week we look forward to competing and reaching out true potential as a program.”
O’FALLON CHRISTIAN EAGLES
2014 record: 6-5. Won Archdiocesan Athletic Association Small Schools Conference. Lost 20-19 to Macon in second round of Class 3 postseason.
Coach: Andy Hare, entering seventh year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Darrell Bine, Sam Dieckhaus, Kevin Folk, Glenn Huskey, Dave Lehmann, Kenny Mays and Mike Norwine
Returning starters: 6 on offense; 6 on defense
Players to watch: QB/FS D.T. Christiansen, OL/DT Judd Grimshaw, K Austin Watson, WR/DE Jordan Kidd, OL/DE Justin Kidd, OL/DT Sam Kinsey, WR/LB Ryan Norwine, Slot/C Blake Huskey, Slot/C Krisna Mays, FB/LB J.J. Simon, OL/LB Tyler Rodriguez, C/DT Jordan Mosher, G/DT Zach Kellam, WR/FS Jared Hall, WR/FS Colton Carlisle, G/DT Ryan Williams, K/WR/FS Zach Harding, G/DT Connor Barton, FB/LB Jared Drury and WR/FS Evan Soell
Newcomers expected to contribute: OL/DT Justin Wallace and Joseph Hutchins
Team strengths: “Tough and tenacious defense. Strong line with a balanced offense, outstanding kickers and solid special teams.”
Goals: “Play tough exciting football, win the AAA Small Conference, districts and make a run in the playoffs.”
Final thought: “I am excited about this team. We have good players at all positions and they are focused on getting better every day.”
ORCHARD FARM EAGLES
2014 record: 10-3. Finished second in Gateway North Conference. First in Class 3 -District 5. Lost 56-21 to California in Class 3 quarterfinals
Coach: Eric Schroer, entering second year as head coach
Assistant coaches: Nick Walls, Mike Turpen, Blake Arnette, Brad Yount and Kyle Elmendorf
Returning starters: 5 on offense; 4 on defense
Players to watch: OG Tyler Graves, DE/OT Anthony Dandino, DE/OT Nick Wright and WR/DB Cole Kline
Newcomers expected to contribute: QB DJ Kemp, RB/LB Micah Hughes and OG/DT Zach Jordan
Team strengths: “Good combination of size, physicality, and experience on the offensive and defensive lines.”
Goals: “We believe we can compete for a conference and district title every year and will continue to make these goals. Our daily goals are to play physical, disciplined football, to get better every day, and to grow the level of maturity that we display while attacking these objectives. We feel responsible, to our school and community, to continue growing the tradition of success that was started by last year’s guys.”
Final thought: “We are very excited as we head into this season. Our guys have bought into our summer programs and have dedicated themselves to laying the groundwork for a strong year. As a small school in a rural setting, we always feel like we have something to prove and we look forward to the opportunities we have to play such strong programs in our conference and our district.”
ST. CHARLES PIRATES
2014 record: 6-5. Finished fourth in Gateway North Conference. Lost 48-14 to St. Charles West in second round of Class 4 postseason.
Coach: Joe Leibner, entering sixth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Paul Imbo, Brad Bichel, Jim Scott, Justin Heinen
Returning starters: 7 on offense; 8 on defense
Players to watch: WR/DB Justin Fredrick, QB, Josh Goldstein, OL Mike Looney, Adrian Dryden.
Team strengths: “Lots of team speed.”
Goals: “Play fast and methodical.”
Final thought: “This is a very athletic, fun group of players. I can’t wait to watch these guys this year.”
ST. CHARLES WEST WARRIORS
2014 record: 11-3. Won Gateway North Conference. Lost 42-21 to Cape Girardeau Central in Class 4 semifinals.
Coach: Gary Strauss, entering 16th year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Don Baldwin and Nuru Allen
Returning starters: 2 on offense; 4 on defense
Defense: 4-4, 4-3
Players to watch: OL/DL Brendan Carey, RB/DB Dre Kelly, OL/DL Marcus Paddack, LB/RB Austin Coffey and Tyler Hash
Newcomers expected to contribute: RB/DB Alarenz Stanton and OL Ethan Watkins
Team strengths: “Team speed.”
Goals: “Win GAC North. Win districts. Go far in playoffs.”
Final thought: “We had a great season last year but it is a new season and this team needs to put that in the rear view mirror and blaze their own trail.”
ST. DOMINIC CRUSADERS
2014 record: 4-6. Lost in first round of postseason.
Coach: Blake Markway, entering second year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Justin Gage, Ken Moore, Jim Schottmueller, Colby Davis, Phil Brotherton and Bob Hennekes
Returning starters: 6 on offense; 6 on defense
Offense: Pro Style
Players to watch: QB Konner Fitzgerald, RB Jake Larson, DB Dominic Demerath, WR Matt Hagan, WR Luke Niggemeier, C Mike DeCiechi, OG Jacob Stiffler, LB Jake Jones, DB/OLB Patrick Kissell, DE Drew Basse and DE Max Messer
Newcomers expected to contribute: CB Andrew Hoff, CB Alex Hoff, WR/DB Matt Eaton and OT Grant Jansen
Team strengths: “We have drastically increased our strength and depth this offseason, so I feel like we will be able to control the line of scrimmage better and finish games with a more physical team.”
Goals: “Compete and improve every game, no matter the opponent, and put us in position to compete for championships.”
Final thought: “I’m very proud of the players and the work they have put in this offseason. We went from 58 players on the team last year to 76 this year with a full freshman team that consistently has 20-plus of them in the weight room every day this summer, with another 40 sophomores through seniors working with them. We have attracted some top notch coaches from the area in defensive coordinator Ken Moore, offensive coordinator Justin Gage, and line coach Jim Schottmueller. Everyone is excited about what these kids can do… so we are anxious to get back on the field a start competing again.”
WENTZVILLE HOLT INDIANS
2014 record: 2-8. Finished fourth in Gateway Central Conference. Lost 45-17 to Fort Zumwalt East in in first round of Class 5 postseason.
Coach: Ethan Place, entering first year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Marc Tiernan, Zack Perry, Nick Larocco, Richard Doggett, Tim Woodson, Shaun Keune, Andrew Hammond and Jason Moore
Returning starters: 6 on offense; 8 on defense
Players to watch: QB Emilio Monsiviais, RB Brendan Lenac, WR Jake Koons. WR Trent Felton, OL Blake Carlo-Skeen, DL Stone Staszcuk, Brendan Lenac, Michael Tunnage, Jake Koons, Austin Keller, Roman King, Devon Byrd and Michael Gomski
Newcomer expected to contribute: FS Jason Skiljan
Team strengths: “We have good team speed on both sides of the ball this year. On the Offensive side of the ball we return a quarterback with two years of starting experience with some talented skill players behind him. We will have a new look on defense and or goal is to play physical football in all three phases of the game.”
Goals: “Play disciplined football and get better each and every day. It’s a new look on both sides of the ball this year and the kids are picking things up quickly. We want to become a tough team to play each and every week and put ourselves in a position to win at the end of the game.”
Final thought: “I’m very excited to be back with the Holt football program. We have a talented group of seniors that are ready to get the season started. We start out on the road against two very good programs and it will be a good test for us as a team. We continue to build the program from the ground up and will be stressing the basic fundamentals with the kids. I look forward to the start of the season and eager to see how are program develops throughout the year.”
WENTZVILLE LIBERTY EAGLES
2014 record: 1-8. Lost 83-12 to Jefferson City Helias in first round of Class 4 postseason.
Coach: Ryan McMillian, entering third year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Larry Winkler, Ryan Barnes, Rusty Aydelott, Manny Flores, Kevin Haynes and Eric Peggs
Returning starters: 7 on offense; 7 on defense.
Players to watch: OT Nick Follmer, RB/LB Brant McCain, WR Brian Jones, TE/OSLB Ross Hewitt and QB Ryan Bermudez
Newcomer expected to contribute: Drake Church
Team strengths: “We have a really good core of players that are going into their second season as varsity players, and they are only juniors.”
Goals: “To improve each and every week of the season, and to be competitive against every team we play this year.”
Final thought: “I cannot wait to get our season started and see where all our hard work over the past year will take us this season. The struggles from last season, playing varsity with just freshmen and sophomores, are going to make us an even better football program this year and for years to come.”
WENTZVILLE TIMBERLAND WOLVES
2014 record: 6-4, Finished third in Gateway South Conference. Lost 35-14 to Blue Springs South in first round of Class 6 postseason.
Coach: Edward Gilreath, entering fourth year as head coach.
Assistant coaches: Justin Shiroma, Mike Sevier, Warren Honoré, Tom Papez, Steve D’Antonio, Scott Johnston, Zach Mitchell, Clint Tanner, James Raab and Nick Tepea
Returning starters: 4 on offense; 3 on defense
Players to watch: TB Rashaun Dennis and LB A.J. Trent
Newcomers expected to contribute: LB Ja’von Hune and WR Jake Papez
Team strengths: “We will be strong offensively and have a swarming defense.”
Goals: “Win the GAC South.”
Final thought: “We have a talented group of young men who can’t wait to step out under those lights and compete.”