For a football power like Garden Plain, you never seem to rebuild, simply reload. With a new head coach at the helm, will the Owls be able to continue the success of the past decade?
Coach: Brad McCormick starts his first season as a head coach at Garden Plain in the 2012 season after being an assistant at Garden Plain for the last nine seasons.
2011 Recap: 11-2 overall, 6-0 league. Lost in State semifinals to eventual Champion Conway Springs.
Returning Starters: 6 on Offense, 5 on Defense
Key Returning Players: Tyler Puetz (OL), Dylan Clark (RB), Denver Doyle (RB), Joe Bauer (OL), Tim Bugner (QB/WR)
Returning Lettermen: 22
OFFENSE: For any Garden Plain team to be successful, it must start with the ground game. Because of that style of play, the returning lineman and running backs are always key assets in the Owl’s bone/flex/spread offense. With six returning starters from the 2011 season, the team has a good basis with which to start. The speed and size of the back field in addition to the ability of multiple players to carry the ball contributes to their historic success in the CPL. It may be McCormick’s first season as a head coach, but he’s already mastered the art of “coach-speak”, saying the team’s biggest weakness will be their lack of depth.
DEFENSE: Despite losing players like LB Joey Capul and DB Lucas Jennings, Garden Plain has a solid group of 5 returning seniors. Their experience will help the juniors who are competing for playing time and ease the transition as coaches try to find the right combination on the defensive line that will complement the linebackers. Competing CPL teams should watch out for Denver Doyle (LB) and Joe Bauer (LB or DE).
ODDS AND ENDS: The 2011 campaign was a season of dominance for the Owls, scoring an average of 41 points per game, while allowing opponents only 17.1 per game. The Owls racked up 3,518 yards on the ground, compared to just 666 through the air. It’s safe to say Garden Plain has a ground and pound offensive philosophy.
After playing in one of the toughest districts in the entire state last season (the four teams were a combined 23-1 entering district play), Garden Plain gets a slightly different feel with this year’s re-districting. Hutchinson Trinity remains a district opponent at home, but the Owls will travel to Haven and Kingman this year while trying to qualify for the state playoffs (both teams finished 2-7 last season).