The Roadrunners have had just one winning season (2010) in the past five years, but qualified for the state playoffs in two of those years (2010, 2012). With the 2014 season upon them, they hope to continue their success in the even-numbered years.
Coach: Justin Burke (16-22 at Chaparral, fifth year; 77-56 overall, 18th year)
2013 Recap: 4-5 overall, 4-5 in league.
Returning Starters: 9 offense, 11 defense.
Returning Lettermen: 18
2014 District: Belle Plaine, Cheney, Conway Springs.
The Roadrunners welcome back 20 starters from last year. Mix that with 18 lettermen and 13 seniors, and on paper, Chaparral could make some noise. Their lines, both offensively and defensively, should be their strengths.
All five starting linemen, all with size, are back. The senior quintet is led by a pair of all-league, 270-pound tackles. Eric Hurt was named to the first team while Jaden Helms received second-team honors. Bryce Duhon (6-3, 220) started every game at center in 2013, with Zakiah Reeves (5-11, 205) and Austin Thomas (5-11, 195) returning at guard.
Operating behind Chaparral’s huge line will be quarterback Shawn Nulik (5-9, 160). The athletic senior was a first-team all-league performer at wide receiver and received honorable mention at quarterback, accounting for nearly 1,200 yards of offense. His primary ball carriers will be a pair of juniors – Adam Clark (5-10, 180) and the speedy Ramon Valderas (5-11, 175).
When Nulik drops back to pass, he will more than likely be looking for senior wide receiver Roger Clark (6-2, 165), another returning starter and an honorable mention selection. Part-time starters Seth Williams (6-1, 180) and Weston Shroeder (5-9, 165), both seniors, provide capable hands on the outside as well.
The defense was vastly improved in 2013 and everyone is back, including a pair of two-way, all-league performers. Senior Shawn Nulik was a unanimous pick at defensive back to go with two spots on offense. Fellow senior Eric Hurt (6-2, 270) doubled up with first-team selections on both the defensive and offensive lines.
Not to be overlooked from a year ago is Adam Clark (5-10, 180), also a returning starter. The junior linebacker led the team with 100 tackles in 2013 and was second-team all-league.
Other returning two-way starters include senior linemen Jaden Helms (6-3, 270, honorable mention) and Austin Thomas (5-11, 195), senior Zakiah Reeves (5-11, 205) at linebacker, and junior Ramon Valderas (5-11, 175) at defensive back.
Rounding out the cast of returning starters are senior Weston Shroeder (5-9, 165) and junior Pierce Bringer (6-3, 180), who also played some quarterback, in the secondary; senior Seth Williams (6-1, 180) at linebacker; and sophomore Chance Bergman (6-4, 180) on the line.
Seniors Bryce Duhon (6-3, 220-pound lineman) and Roger Clark (6-2, 165-pound defensive back), logged time in the starting lineup as well.
Odds and Ends:
Although optimism is high in Roadrunner Country, Coach Burke acknowledges achieving their lofty goals will be difficult. For starters, playing in the Central Plains League is always tough.
“Chaparral has never beat Conway Springs or Garden Plain and have struggled playing at Douglass and Cheney,” Burke said. “We will have to be mentally tougher than we have been in the past.”
Burke expects Chaparral’s district to be very tough as well. The Roadrunners host Conway Springs, a 2013 state quarterfinalist, in the final district game. They also play at Cheney, where he said they have struggled in the past.