Coach: Matt Hendricks (entering fourth year as head coach with a record of 16-14 at Sterling and overall)
Returning Starters: Offense 3, Defense 5
Returning Letterman: 9
2012 District: Ellinwood, Inman, La Crosse, Medicine Lodge
Offense: Sterling’s offense was strong in 2011, and was only shutout one time. Offensive threats Chad Bennett, Seth Humphreys, Bryant Patterson, and Alex Burgess have hung up their jerseys, but with junior and senior leadership in 2012, the Blackbears will look to continue their winning seasons and post-season appearances.
Juniors Jed Dierksen and Tannar Stallings will play as offensive linemen for the Blackbears while juniors Austin Myers and Michael Hendricks run the ball. Hendricks and Myers combined to rush for 95 yards last season, but they will be carrying the ball much more often in 2012.
“After losing a strong senior class we will be looking for a strong showing from our junior class to fill many of those positions,” said head coach Matt Hendricks. “We feel our size could be a strength for us up front this year.”
Seniors Riley Galyon, Kirk Engelland, Calvin Jones, and Austin Maxwell will not only help develop their younger teammates, but they will also lead the offense.
Defense: Last year the Blackbears defense allowed an uncharacteristic 58 points in their 58-22 loss to Beloit in the first game of the state playoffs. Before post-season play the defense gave up just 119 points.
Maxwell and fellow linebacker sophomore Jordan Proffitt will work together to stop the offense of their new post-season opponents of 2-1A.
Odds and Ends: One of Sterling’s two losses in last year’s regular season was a 26-14 defeat to Smoky Valley. The Blackbears will have an early chance at the Smoky Valley Vikings as they face them for the first game of the season on August 31st.