After a winless season in 2013, the Belle Plaine Dragons have no place to go except up. But with their inexperience and lack of numbers, that may be a tough row to hoe.
Coach: Jason Jinkens (0-9 at Belle Plaine, second year)
2013 Recap: (0-9 overall, 0-9 in CPL).
Returning Starters: 5 offense, 3 defense
Returning Lettermen: 8
2014 District: Chaparral, Conway Springs, Cheney.
“BPHS is going to be young and few in numbers,” Jinkens said. “We are looking to build our program from the bottom up.”
Steve Happy appears to be entrenched at quarterback, but some of the other skill positions may be up for grabs. However, Jinkens does have several options returning at both receiver and running back. One of them is senior Tyler Lowers, who should be a multiple-threat type of player. He can run and catch, and may even toss a pass or two out of the spread offense. Senior strongmen Matt DeShazer and Brett Kelly will be key figures on the line, protecting the QB and opening holes for Lowers and others. Look for younger players such as Trevor Lawless, Gage Shook, Cheyden Lewis and Cullen Reynolds to have many chances to contribute.
What Belle Plaine lacks in size it hopes to make up for by showing multiple looks and blitzing out of a 3-4 formation. But the absence of one player from last year will be hard to make up for in anybody’s book.
Gone is first-team All-CPL and honorable mention all-state linebacker Chase Curl, which obviously leaves a gaping hole in the Dragons’ defense. That’s where the toughest part of rebuilding will take place this year. Curl was also the defensive leader for Belle Plaine, and someone needs to step up into that role as well.
Jinkens said that Kody Evans could be the physical and emotional leader the Dragons need on defense as a starter at middle linebacker. Freshman Caleb Stover and junior Dylan Powell will use their speed to provide needed help in the secondary.
Odds and Ends:
The Central Plains League is always tough because, for one reason, of Conway Springs. The Cardinals, a 2013 state quarterfinalist, are one of Belle Plaine’s district foes this year, along with Chaparral and Cheney.