Francis Howell coach Brent Chojnacki is excited about his Vikings heading into his second season at the helm. The Vikings return six starters on offense and seven on defense. Plus, Chojnacki has a solid group of seniors. “The senior class is determined to lead this team and improve off of last year’s 7-4 season,” Chojnacki said. Fort Zumwalt North went 10-2 last fall. The Panthers reached the Class 5 quarterfinals. Coach Joe Bacon believes this year’s team has the potential to have a solid season. He has eight starters back on offense and five on defense. St. Charles West coach Gary Strauss’ Warriors won the Gateway Athletic Conference North Division and finished 8-4 overall. The team features eight starters back on offense and nine on defense. “Six of the seniors have started since their sophomore year,” Strauss said. “They have worked extremely hard for this season and they are expecting big things.” Charlie Elmendorf is entering his 25th year as the head coach at Duschesne in St. Charles. The Pioneers were 2-0 last season but Elmendorf has five starters back on offense and five starters back on defense as Duchense looks to rebound this fall. Timberland went 8-3 last fall under coach Edward Gilreath, who begins his eighth year at the Wolves’ helm. There are six starters back on offense and five on defense for this season. He likes the senior leadership on this year’s squad. “We will play physical football until the clock reads 0:00,” Gilreath said. There are three new head coaches this season. Ben Pike takes over at Fort Zumwalt West after Neil Nowack moved up to become the district’s athletic director. At Orchard Farm, Blake Arnette took over as head coach after Eric Schroer became that district’s athletic director. Dakota Conway is the new head coach at O’Fallon Christian. Former head coach Andy Hare is now coaching at Summit Christian Academy in Lee’s Summit. Here is a look at the conference alignments: Gateway Athletic Conference Central Division: Fort Zumwalt East, Fort Zumwalt North, Fort Zumwalt South, Washington, Wentzville Liberty, Wentzville Timberland. Gateway Athletic Conference North Division: Orchard Farm, St. Charles, St. Charles West, Warrenton, Winfield. Gateway Athletic Conference South Division: Fort Zumwalt West, Francis Howell, Francis Howell Central, Francis Howell North, Troy Buchanan, Wentzville Holt. Archdiocesan Athletic Association Division I : Cardinal Ritter, St. Francis Borgia, St. Dominic, St. Mary’s, Tolton Catholic. Archdiocesan Athletic Association Division II: Bishop DuBourg, Duchesne, Lutheran St. Peters, O’Fallon Christian, Trinity. The Missouri State High School Activities Assocation has released the new district alignments for this season. Here they are: Class 6 District 1 CBC, De Smet, Francis Howell, Francis Howell Central, Hazelwood Central, Hazelwood West, Pattonville, St. Louis University High. District 2 Blue Springs, Blue Springs South, Fort Zumwalt West, Hickman, Holt, Rock Bridge, Timberland, Troy Buchanan. Class 5 District 4 Battle, Francis Howell, Fort Zumwalt North, Sedalia Smith-Cotton. Class 4 District 3 Clayton, Ladue, MICDS, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Summit, St. Charles, Westminster Christian Academy. District 4 Fort Zumwalt East, Fort Zumwalt South, Hannibal, Kirksville, Liberty, Marshall, St. Dominic, Warrenton. Class 3 District 4 Fulton, Lutheran St. Charles, Mexico, Moberly, Orchard Farm, St. Charles West, Winfield, Wright City. Class 2 District 2 Cardinal Ritter, Carnahan, Cuba, Duchesne, Grandview, Lift for Life Academy, Lutheran North, Principia. District 5 Centralia, Father Tolton Regional Catholic, Hallsville, Hermann, Missouri Military Academy, Montgomery County, North Callaway, O’Fallon Christian. Here is a look at each team in alphabetical order with input from the coaches. DUCHESNE PIONEERS 2018 record: 2-9. Went 0-5 to finish last in Archdiocesan Athletic Association Division II. Lost 68-0 to Lutheran North in Class 2 district semifinal. Coach: Charlie Elmendorf. Entering 25th year as head coach at Duschesne. Returning number of starters: 5 on offense and 5 on defense. Captains: Not named yet. Offense: Spread, multiple. Defense: 4-3. Players on team to watch for this fall: Senior QB Mitchell DeGuentz, SR RB/DT Jack Allison, sophomore RB/LB Nathan DeGuentz. Newcomers/underclassmen expected to contribute: Freshman Jammond Mathis, freshman Antwon Hayden, freshman Amorion Oliphont, senior Karston Edmonds, junior Michael Pilla, senior Hank Thro. Players who have committed to a college: None. Team strengths: The offensive linemen led by Ty Rufkahr and Nick Bono, an experienced senior class, good leadership, sophomore kciker Trevor Saguto, improved team speed and a strong freshman class. Goals: Staying healthy. Final thought: “Developing young talented players will be important for us to be successful,” Elmendorf said. “The team has improved consistently throughout practice.” FORT ZUMWALT EAST LIONS 2018 record: 9-3. Tied for first in GAC Central at 4-1. Lost 48-34 to Hannibal in Class 4 district championship game. Coach: Scott Eacret, entering 13th year as head coach Assistant coaches: Jim Klevorn, Marvin Byrd III, Rob Hawkins, Wally Ferguson, Joe Leibner, Don Philips, Don Morris, Brett Fullmer, Joe Klosterman, Stephen Longo and Mitch Rodeman Returning: 4 starters on offense; 5 on defense Captains: To be determined. Offense: Pistol/spread Defense: 50 Players to watch: To be determined. Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: To be determined. Players who have committed to a college: None. Team strengths: The willingness of younger players to step up to the challenge. Goals: To compete at the best of our abilities each week. Favorites to win the GAC Central: Timberland, Zumwalt North Final thought: With the lack of senior participation there will be plenty of opportunity for the younger players to contribute and make an impact. We are excited to see how they will rise to the challenge. FORT ZUMWALT NORTH PANTHERS 2018 record: 10-2. Tied for first at 4-1 in GAC Central Division. Coach: Joe Bacon, entering 12th year as head coach at Fort Zumwalt North Assistant coaches: Carl Scharf, Josh Cooper, Marty Robinson, Ellis Brister, Nick Fisher, Brandon Whitmore, Mike Iannicola and Jason Caimi Returning: 8 starters on offense; 5 on defense Captains: To be announced. Offense: Pistol/spread/option Defense: 3-4 Players to watch: Senior ATH/DB Cairo Payne, senior OL/DL Gavin Stricker, senior RB/DB Izaiah Hartrup, senior WR/DB Tim Nesslage, senior LB Max Martin and junior OL/DL Nate Rapplean Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Junior RB/LB Parker Monnig, junior OL/DL Brendan Mahoney, junior QB/LB Jake Kolkmeier, junior ATH/DB Jack Newcomb and junior RB/LB Robert Players who have committed to a college: Iaziah Hartrup to Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Team strengths: Have entire offensive line returning and they will be the heart of our team. Also have some good team speed on both sides of the ball. A strong senior class should lead us well. Goals: Improve on last season’s accomplishments. Compete for the GAC Central title. Compete for a District title. Play great football every week. conduct ourselves in a way that our school and community will be proud of us. Favorites to win the conference: Whoever can play at a high level every week. Final thought: One of our goals for this season was to improve what we do in the weight room and we met that goal – our results up there were the best we’ve had in a long time and we’re excited to see how that carries over on Friday nights. Our focus has now shifted to being much more consistent on a daily basis. We have to improve in this area if we’re to have a chance of being successful early in the season. We start by running the gauntlet of Francis Howell, Zumwalt West and Parkway Central before rolling into league play so there will be no easing into this season. New players, new challenges, new season. We have been able to consistently play at a high level over the last several years and our boys are determined to do whatever they can to keep that streak going. If we worked hard this past offseason and we execute at a high level on Friday nights we should be able to compete for another conference and district title and give ourselves the opportunity to keep playing through November. FORT ZUMWALT SOUTH BULLDOGS 2018 record: 4-6. Finished fourth at 2-3 in GAC Central. Coach: Adam Hamilton, entering 3rd year as head coach at Fort Zumwalt South Assistant coaches: JV Williams, Chris Galvin, Maurice Vick, Eric Mitchell, Calwaun Street, Prentice Henderson, Mike O’Fallon and Brett Sugar Returning: 5 starters on offense; 8 on defense Captains: Kieran Snowden and Gabe Monte Offense: Spread Defense: 3-4 Players to watch: Senior S/TE Gabe Monte, senior RB/LB Kieran Snowden, junior LB/RB Darius Johnson and junior LB/OL Luke Picht Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Senior S Jaden Johnson, senior DL/RB Joe Lenoir, senior DE Brandon Vogt, junior WR/DB Zach Bensing, junior LB/TE Jack Bishop, junior DB/WR Carmichael Burnett, junior WR/DB Eli Edmonds, junior K/P Jonah Cox, junior OL/DL Matt Goode, junior WR/DB Keijuan Howard, junior LB/RB Darius Johnson, junior LB/OL Luke Picht, junior LB/WR Caleb Schroeter, sophomore OL/DL Colten Boschert, sophomore WR/DB Adam Grant, sophomore QB Jay Higgins, sophomore OL/DL Joey Kaufman, sophomore OL/DL Austin Mahoney, sophomore OL/DL Delsin Puchalski, sophomore OL/DL Matt Robison and sophomore WR/DB Cole Walters Players who have committed to a college: None. Team strengths: Have eight returning starters on defense. Good special teams led by an accurate, strong legged kicker. Explosive ability at the skill positions on offense. Goals: Improve and grow each week to be at our best when playoffs start. FORT ZUMWALT WEST JAGUARS 2018 record: 4-6. Finished second in GAC South with 4-1 record. Lost 35-27 in Class 6 postseason opener. Coach: Ben Pike, entering first year as head coach Assistants: Nick Newton, Kollin Groves, Rod Murchison, Chad Towers, Ulysses Ross III, Eric Gough, Michael O’Bryan and Kason Brown Returning: 6 starters on offense; 2 on defense Offense: Multiple Defense: 3-3 Players to watch: Offense Senior RB James Strauss, senior QB Jake Murphy senior WR Max Koviak and senior OL Kody Klingensmith Defense: Senior LB Ulysses Ross IV, senior S Sam Smith and senior DE Kaden Solverud Newcomers/underclassmen to watch:Junior TE Chris Kerr, junior DL Asa Pickett, junior DL Cole Mathews and junior LB Liam Webb Players who have committed to a college: None yet. Team strengths: The run game on offense and the defense is athletic. Goals: Play with great intensity and toughness. Compete to the best of our abilities week in and week out. Win the conference. Favorites to win the conference: Francis Howell and Troy. Final thought: I am extremely excited to take over this great program. My assistants and I are very blessed to work with such great young men that our in this program. We have a good group of seniors, that we are expecting to lead the way to a very successful season. We will work to be a team that competes to the best of our ability for all four quarters. We believe if we do this it will lead to a lot of wins this upcoming year. FRANCIS HOWELL VIKINGS 2018 record: 7-4. Went 5-0 to win Gateway South Conference. Coach: Brent Chojnacki, entering second year as head coach at Francis Howell. Assistant coaches: Justin Schmidt, Mike Muench, Jeff Ehrhardt, Jason Skidmore, Carl Wayne, Jon McDonald, Keith Looten, Mark Malawey, Norm Ryan, Mark Paulsen, John Brune, Wes Kuhn, Mike Burroughs and Tyler Schiller. Returning: 6 starters on offense; 7 on defense. Captains: Undetermined. Offense: Multiple. Defense: Multiple. Players to watch: Senior OL/DL Drake Heismeyer, senior OL/DL Ryan Skillington, senior RB/DB Gideon Niboh, senior TE/LB Charlton Watson Jr., senior Jack Larkin, senior Parker Florea, junior Gus Hetzel and junior Jackson Hetzel. Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Freshman Brett Norfleet, junior Dane Mohrmann, junior Owen Heslin and sophomore Max Wilson. Players who have committed to a college: Drake Heismeyer to Missouri. Team strengths: Returning three starters on the offensive line that all have had a great offseason. The trenches should be the team’s strong point this year. Are very balanced offensively and feel confident in the experience that we have on our defense. Final thought: I am excited about the dedication and hard work that our players have put in since January when we started our offseason strength and conditioning program. The senior class is determined to lead this team and improve off of last year’s 7-4 season. FRANCIS HOWELL CENTRAL SPARTANS 2018 record: 1-9. Finished last at 1-4 in Gateway South Conference. Coach: Pete Eberhardt, entering fifth year as head coach. Assistant coaches: DC Kurt Kruse, OL Malach Radigan, DL John Howard, OL Erik Findall, LB Tron Watts, WR Mike Bunton, WR Erick Webster, LB Tommy Eberhardt, DB Alfonzo Brown, DL Chaz Fulton and DB Jake Mattson Returning: 2 starters on offense; 3 on defense. Captains: Not named yet. Offense: Spread. Defense: 4-3. Players to watch: Senior DB/WR Kyle Roland, senior DB/WR Jack Jerden, senior OL Alex Loetz, senior OL Dillon Davis and senior OL Dominic Giacalone. Newcomers/underclassmen to watch:Senior K/P Sam Newton, senior WR/LB Tyler Garamella, senior OL/DL DeAndre Jordan, senior OL/DL Dylan Soar and senior OL/DL Joe Chiesa. Players who have committed to a college: None. Team strengths: We will be young, but we have a lot of dedicated players. It will be an exciting year to see our seniors excel and our juniors and sophomores grow. Goals: Play one game at a time. Favorites to win Gateway South conference: Francis Howell, Fort Zumwalt West and Troy. Final thought: We are excited to see all the hard work our players have put in during the offseason. There is a different feel with this team than teams in the past. It should be very interesting to see how we end up after Week 9. FRANCIS HOWELL NORTH KNIGHTS 2018 record: 0-10. Finished last at 0-5 in Gateway South Conference. Coach: Brett Bevill, entering fourth year as head coach at Francis Howell North. Assistant coaches: Mike Bevill, Ryan Darks, Arty Johnson, Mike Castro, Eric Eubank, Robert Kyle, Matt Couch, James Wofford and Adam Maxey Returning: 6 starters on offense; 6 on defense. Captains: Unknown Offense: Spread, multiple Defense: 5-2 Players to watch: All of the players. Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: A few sophomores. Players who have committed to a college: None Team strengths: Great chemistry. Goals: Win the first game. Favorites to win the conference: Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt West Final thought: This team has great chemistry and I am excited to see them compete. The team has put in some hard work over the summer and we can’t wait to practice and play. HOLT INDIANS 2018 record: 4-6. Went 2-4 to finish fourth in Gateway South Conference. Coach: Ethan Place, entering fifth year as head coach at Holt. Assistant coaches: Zack Perry, Daryl Daleen, Andrew Hammond, Jerry Kile, Ken Moore, Paul Mcquire, Aaron Smith, Sean Haley, Bryan Beerman and Clinton Tanner Returning: 5 starters on offense; 5 on defense Captains: Clayton Reed, Cale Bunner, Cooper Brown and Jackson Smith Offense: Multiple Defense: 6-2 stack monster Players to watch: Senior LB Clayton Reed, senior OL Cale Bunner, sophmore Cooper Brown, sophomore Jackson Smith, sophomore OL Austin Boone and senior FS Matthew Bennett Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Freshman WR Dallas Winner-Johnson and sophomore Collin Bunner Players who have committed to a college: Senior RB/LB Colton Hawkes has committed to the University of Missouri for wrestling. Team strengths: We have solid team speed that will help us play an attacking style of football. Goals: To improve each week and make a run late in the season. Favorites to win Gateway South Conference: Francis Howell and Fort Zumwalt West Final thought: I’m excited to see this group play together. It’s been a great offseason and they’ve put in the work. There will be a number of sophomores starting this year and they’ll grow as the season progresses. The program has improved each year I’ve been at Holt and this year will be no different. LIBERTY EAGLES 2018 record: 4-7. Went 1-4 to finish fifth in GAC Central. Coach: Ryan McMillen, entering seventh year as head coach at Liberty. Assistant coaches: Alex Zangriles, Zach Kling, Rusty Aydelott, Kevin Haynes, Brandon Hankins, Ethan Nixon, Chris Seiler, Brad Smith, Beau Hill and Mike Jarrett Returning: 6 starters on offense; 6 on defense Captains: Ben Adelsberger, Zach Dotson, Mitchell Eckardt, Cooper Terrell, TJ Irlmeier, Jackson Ward, Jacob Benes, Parker Young and Wyatt Haynes Offense: Split back veer Defense: 3-4 Team strengths: Leadership Goals: To be competitive and get better each and every week. Final thought: We are very excited to get this season kicked off. Our team is in an awesome place right now. Our players have bought in to what it means to play football at Liberty High School and are working extremely hard. ORCHARD FARM EAGLES 2018 record: 5-5. Went 2-2 to tie for second in GAC North. Coach: Blake Arnette, entering first year as head coach at Orchard Farm. Assistant coaches: Andy Arnette, Steve Menteer, Mike Turpen, Mike Hohe, Phil Kendall and Devinn Heuermann Returning: 4 starters on offense; 5 on defense Captains: To be determined. Offense: Multiple Defense: Multiple Players to watch: Junior QB/DB AJ Snow, senior RB/LB Zach Roberts, junior OL/DL Jack Denen, junior WR/LB Alex Heitmann and senior OL/LB Brandon Davis Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Sophomore WR/DB Bryce Westerfeld, sophomore OL/DL Gabe Schauman, sophomore WR/DB Darrion Lewis, sophomore WR/DB Donte Lewis and junior WR/DB Devin Bledsoe Players who have committed to a college: None Team strengths: Strong run game offensively led by AJ Snow and Zach Roberts. Goals: To compete for a conference and a district title, and improve every week. Favorites to win the GAC North: Saint Charles West Final thought: I am excited to see how our team grows through out the season. We lost a large senior class that played significant roles on our team for the past few seasons. I look forward to seeing different guys step up and compete on Friday nights. I believe that we have a team with great potential and look forward to working towards reaching our potential every week. ST. CHARLES PIRATES 2018 record: 4-6. Went 2-2 to tie for second in GAC North. Coach: Bob Leonard, entering second year as head coach at St. Charles. Assistant coaches: Paul Imbo, Brad Bichel, Jayden Bowden, Rick Foster, Nigel Kinnworthy, Justin Heinen, Ray Gillispie, Steve Thorne and Cornel Carryl Returning: 3 starters on offense; 2 on defense Captains: To be determined. Offense: Spread Defense: 4-3 Players to watch: Seniors Mike Smith, Zac Schnare, Justin Mowry, Charles Murphy, Jack Roderick, Jakob Brendell, Simon Fernandez, Joe McGee and Devlon Noonan; junior Trey Ward Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Sophomores Marquis Graciel, A.J. Hawkins, Charles Young, Logan Underwood and Moses Brown Players who have committed to a college: None Team strengths: Work ethic and dedication. Goals: Continue to work hard and practice hard every day. Continue to commit to the weight room year round. Favorites to win the GAC North: St. Charles West. Final thought: Marv Levy said, ‘The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.’ We will be a young football team that will have to fight together to be able to compete. We will never surrender, we will never quit, we will continue to grow as we get experience at the varsity level. ST. CHARLES WEST WARRIORS 2018 record: 8-4. Went 4-0 to win GAC North. Coach: Gary Strauss. Entering 20th year as head coach at St. Charles West. Assistant coaches: Nuru Allen, Ryan Rockow, Josh Ball and Erik Hart Returning: 8 starters on offense; 9 on defense Captains: Brendan Sportsman, Jamesen Reese, Stephen Frazer and Dominic Flint Offense: Wishbone Defense: 4-3/4-4 Players to watch: Senior QB/DB Brendan Sportsman, senior RB/DB Jamesen Reese, senior OL/DL Stephen Frazer, senior SE/DB Anthony Lemons, senior FB/DE Trevor Turner, senior OL/DE Randy Jemerson, senior FB/LB Derrick Scruggs, junior RB/DB Dominic Flint and junior OL/DL John Wilson Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Junior OL/DL Grant Middendorf Team strengths: Experience, team speed, strength, work ethic. Goals: Win conference, districts, state Final thought: This team is very close. Six of the seniors have started since their sophomore year. They have worked extremely hard for this season and they are expecting big things. ST. DOMINIC CRUSADERS 2018 record: 5-5. Went 1-3 to finish fourth in Archdiocesan Athletic Association Division I. Coach: Blake Markway. Entering sixth year as head coach at St. Dominic. Assistant coaches: Jim Schottmueller, Scott Fulton, Jake Hogan, Joe Groaning, Jacob Stiffler, Max Buck, Zach Hanebrink, Bob Hennekes and John Butler Returning: 2 starters on offense; 2 on defense. Captains: To be determined. Offense: Spread Defense: 4-2-5 Players to watch: Senior RB/OLB Tyler Mersnick, who returns as an all-conference player in 2018 on defense. He should really shine offensively as the feature back in our offense. Senior WR Jackson Dearing returns as a starter, as does junior WR/FS Tate Cross, who returns a lot of playing experience as a rotational player and has had a great summer. Junior OL/DL Christian Giarla started on both sides of the ball at times as a sophomore which is very rare for us and should be a high level lineman. Senior OL Marc Rosner also rotated at times on the line and offers great leadership for our linemen. Senior DE Jameson Witte (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) was a football newcomer for us last year and should be a force again on the line as he gets off the ball as hard and fast as any player we’ve had up front. Newcomers/underclassmen to watch: Junior QB Gabe Serri has the talent and is making good decisions where we know we want to throw the ball more than we have in the past. He has a solid group of young linemen protecting him including junior Ben Messer, who saw saw playing time on the offensive line as a sophomore. I’m very excited about our two big sophomore inside receivers/tight ends in Cameron Whitt and Ryan Schwendeman, who offer us a lot of options in the pass and run game as blockers too. Players who have committed to a college: None. Team strengths: We have the strongest linemen group and possibly best depth up front than we have in my previous five seasons at St. Dominic. Only one is a senior so it is exciting to see the strength this group developed in our offseason programs as underclassmen. Goals: Focus on what is in front of us right now so we are constantly improving to be our best in the month of November. Favorites to win the conference: AAA Large has so much talent and great coaches, it could be any team in 2019. Final thought: Competition brings out the best in people and with as many seniors as we graduated from starting positions. It has been great to see all four grades competing since the 2018 season ended to position themselves to be starters in 2019. We have five awesome seniors that are going to lead this team, but behind them are three consecutive classes that had approximately 30 freshmen each year that offer us a lot of depth, talent and competition for positions. That alone has been huge for our program to have separate JV and freshman teams over the years to prepare them for this time. I believe they’re going to push each other to improve each week as we gain experience on the varsity level. Timberland Wolves 2018 record: 8-3. Tied for first at 4-1 in Gateway Central Conference. Lost 34-13 to Battle in Class 5 district championship game. Coach: Edward Gilreath. Entering eighth year as head coach at Timberland. Assistant coaches: Craig Collins, Justin Shiroma, Colin Hanna, Connor Brown, Chris Cordonier, Jason Arndt, Andy Flett, Austin Lewis, Jeff Renz, Kyle Barras Returning number of starters: 6 on offense and 5 on defense. Captains: Jarrett Wilson, Chase McCoy, Joseph Larsen, Will Huelskamp. Offense: Multiple. Defense: 3-4. Players on team to watch for this fall: We have a great group of seniors that have been working extremely hard and continue to lead this team in the right direction. Newcomers/underclassmen expected to contribute: Our underclassmen have bought into our senior leadership and will step in to fill any gaps there may be. Players who have committed to a college: None. Team strengths: We will play physical football until the clock reads 0:00. Goals: To improve every week and play our best football in November. Favorites to win Gateway Central conference: It will be a tough battle like last year most likely coming down to the last conference game. Final thought: This group has been working hard since January and is ready to get back on the field.