Larned has record numbers in camp this fall. Head coach AB Stokes says he has 65 kids out for football. Two seasons from breaking a 24 game losing streak, in 2013 the Indians football team posted its first winning season in 15 years.
Coach: AB Stokes (10-9 in two seasons at Larned)
2013 Recap: 7-3, made the 4A DII playoffs (the school’s first playoff appearance in 28 years), lost to Andale in the first round
2014 Outlook: The Indians make the move into the Central Kansas League in 2014. The result is a much tougher non-district schedule than what Larned had in 2013. Also on the Indians schedule is powerhouse LaCrosse, making the road to back to back winning seasons a difficult one.
Offense: The biggest loss on offense for Larned is quarterback Easton Palmer who had more than 1700 combined yard and 24 touchdowns in 2013. But coach Stokes cupboard is not completely bare. The Indians have six starters returning on offense. Senior Trey Kraisinger and junior Evan Skelton will battle for the starting qb spot in fall camp.
Defense: The defense should be a strength for Larned in 2014, with eight defensive starters returning. But this group struggled at times, giving up 43 points in the opening round of district play to Ulysses and 60 in its playoff game versus Andale. The Indians did show flashes of greatness on d last season, including a shutout against Ellinwood. They also held Ellis and Thomas More Prep under 10 points.
Odds and ends: The biggest challenged is going to be how Larned responds to the increased level of competition in 2014. The opening game versus fellow CKL newcomer Hoisington should set the tone for the season. The Indians lost to the Cardinals 27-9 last season.
“I think it’s going to be a positive transition for us,” says Stokes. “We will get quality competition week in and week out. I think it will ultimately prepare us for district play.”
Larned’s district includes two of the same teams it did last season, and the Indians beat both Hugoton and Pratt to advance to the postseason, The Indians trade Ulysses for Holcomb to round out the district.