Cheney seniors get third head coach in three years as Cardinals try to return to state playoffs for first time since 2006
Coach: Cory Brack (first year as head coach at school. 20-36 in seven years as head coach.
2011 Recap: 4-5 overall, 4-2 in CPL
2012 District: at Nickerson, at Buhler, Andale
Returning Starters: Offense 4, Defense 7
Returning Letterman: 14
Returning Starters: Chad Harbour-Nordahl, Sr. (WR/DB); Turner Beilman, Sr. (WR/DB); Mason Schell, Sr. (WR/DB); Tommy Hill, Sr. (RB/LB); Clayton Huffard, Sr. (OL/DL); Tanner Wulf, Sr. (OL/DL); Gabe Schomacker, Sr. (OL/DL); Layne Higgins, Sr. (WR/LB); Miles Craig, Sr. (WR/DB); Jared Giefer, Sr. (WR/DB)
Key Returning Players: Austin Martin, Sr. (QB/DB); Cooper Price, Jr. (RB/LB); Tyler Trego, Soph. (RB/DB); Dustin Martin, Sr. (TE/DL); Wade Dome, Jr. (RB/LB); Logan Mason, Soph. (OL/DL); Wade McGuffy, Soph. (RB/LB); Kevin Downey, Sr. (OL/DL); Collin Guthrie, Jr. (OL/DL); Isaiah Grover, Soph. (RB/LB); Tyler Amsink, Jr. (QB/DB)
2012 Outlook: It's been a time of change for the Cheney Cardinal seniors. After six seasons under head coach Dustin McEwen, last season the Cardinals were led by Jason Nichols, but at the end of the season, Cory Brack was hired to take over the program after three successful seasons at Wichita South. Brack led the Titans to the state playoffs two of the past three seasons, and finished with a record of 10-19 at South.
Brack will run an offense at Cheney which will rely on multiple sets, instead of one specific type.
"We are going to be very multiple but we are going to see what we will be successful at, and use that," said Brack.
For Cheney, the key to success will be turning around the scoring averages for their offense and defense. The offense scored 18.1 points per game last season, while the defense gave up 25.3. Leading the way this season will be a new quarterback, however a training camp battle will decide just who that is.
"We will have a quality battle between Senior Austin Martin and Junior Tyler Amsink. Austin is a great leader, and understands the offense. Tyler is a great athlete, we will see how well he runs the offense." said Brack.
The Cardinals do return their top receiver in senior Chad Harbour-Nordahl. Harbour-Nordahl led the team last season with 29 receptions for 310 yards, which was good for an average of 10.7 yards per catch. Jared Giefer also returns at receiver, and brings an impressive 16.9 yards per catch average from last season. Whoever wins the QB battle in camp will have weapons to use.
The biggest offensive strength for the Cardinals comes in the trenches, where they return a veteran group of lineman.
"We have a veteran OL but we have to get them working as a unit," Brack said.
While the team has an experienced starting group, there are concerns for Brack.
"Depth at offensive line is where we will struggle the most. Our strength will be our skill guys and our veteran offensive line."
The Cardinals will run a base 4-3 defense this season, and will rely on their secondary to act as the anchor of the unit. Brack points to Turner Bielman and Mason Schell, as well as Harbour-Nordahl and Giefer to be the leaders of the defensive secondary. To find success in 2012, the Cardinals will need to continue to dominate the run game.
Last season, Cheney gave up only 165 rushing yards per game, a good number when you consider just how run-oriented the Central Plains League has historically been. The defense gave up 58 yards per game through the air, which was good for fourth-best in the league standings.
Odds and Ends:
One of the biggest adjustments for Brack will be the move from a 6A school to a 4A.
The biggest challenge is the number of student-athletes on our team compared to what we had at Wichita South," said Brack. "We had over a 100 kids compared to 40 or 50. We have a lot of athletes walking the halls at Cheney that should be playing football.