Wichita South has had a rough go of it in past years, but with a strong group of young players mixed with experience, the Titans could surprise some teams.
Coach: Kevin Steiner (Entering third year, 2-16 overall)
2013 Recap: 1-8 Overall, 0-7 League
South has been 1-8 the past two seasons, beating North in 2012 and Campus in 2013. The Titans scored a season-high 34 points in their win over the Colts, but couldn’t put it together any other game.
Returning Starters: 9 Offense, 4 Defense
2014 District: Derby, West, Campus
Of the almost unheard of nine returning offensive players, five of them are on the offensive line. Steven Percival and Jordan McPherson are both juniors that will line up next to sophomores Brandon Enyart and Zack Grossnickle. Blake Willson is the group’s lone senior.
“Willson’s experience will help him guide that group,” said head coach Kevin Steiner.
What a group it could be.
In what is often the most underrated position on the field, the offensive linemen have the opportunity in 2014 to be among the best in the city. They’ve all played together in the same system last season and their average weight is a svelte 233 pounds.
“Our success will be determined on the growth of our offensive and defensive lines,” Steiner said. “I’m pleased with the work I’ve seen them put in in the weight room this offseason.”
They will be blocking for a quartet of running backs in sophomores Jaqwan Binkley and Torion Neloms and juniors Jeremiah Hudspeth and Traevon Wells. The Titans will run out of the diamond formation and all four backs will get snaps.
Allen Bishop, also a strong safety, will move to the offense to be the team’s quarterback. He will have the opportunity to throw to Skylar Rice who led the team in touchdown catches in 2013. Steiner said Rice gives South the option to stretch the field because he is so fast.
The Titans scored just 13.1 points per game in 2013. Aside from its 34-point performance against Campus and 26-point game against North, they never put up more than 14 points. South was shutout once and scored in the single digits three times.
However, this group has almost all its starters coming back and it was extremely young in 2013. Don’t be shocked if this group puts up 20-30 points a game in 2014.
This is going to be a green defensive squad. Only four starters from 2013 return and two of them will play both sides in Torion Neloms at running back and linebacker and Allen Bishop at quarterback and strong safety.
Kaden Griffin is the lone returning senior and Steiner expects him to be the defensive leader from his free safety position. Walter Goudeau will help as well at cornerback.
Zach Brewster will help anchor the defensive line after missing last season due to a knee injury. He too will play on offense and defense.
Through three games to start 2013, the Titans gave up a total of 145 points. Granted, this is a completely different team from almost one calendar year ago.
The South defense gave up 40.8 points per game in 2013, so it’s no secret that South will have to rely on its offense to win games.
Odds and Ends:
South’s freshmen team went undefeated in 2014 and many of those guys are now on varsity getting snaps. If the freshman group can continue to get better, South has a shot at finishing in the top half of the city.
“Even with the good numbers of returning starters, we will still be very young,” Steiner said. “That youth is fairly talented as the freshmen went undefeated last season. At the skill positions, we are very talented.”
The last time South broke .500 was 2009 when it went 5-5 and lost to Heights in the first round of the playoffs. Heights eventually lost in the 6A state title game.
South has gone 1-8 three of the past four seasons and is a combined 7-30 over that span.