Our High School Football Preview Tour is coming to a close.
The Rocking M Media sports staff is previewing the 2020 season, venturing to different parts of central Kansas.
The latest stop was at Salina South, home to the Cougars.
South was one win better than 2018, finishing with a 2-7 mark. Nineteen lettermen are back from that squad, a year older which should benefit the Cougars with a loaded 2020 schedule.
Two-year starter Terran Galloway will not return for the 2020 season. The tough signal caller battled shoulder issues and made the decision to step away from football. That opens the door for sophomore Weston Fries. Weston is a terrific athlete and brings a different flavor behind center for the Cougars.
Junior Brandt Cox, the team’s leading rusher from last season, makes the jump to upperclassman. Cox ran for 561 yards and seven touchdowns in his second season at tailback for Salina South. Cox wants to run through defenders, but also has the ability to sprint away for long runs.
Salina South will move on from its all-time receptions leader in Ty Garrett, who’s now at Washburn. Garrett recorded 54 catches for 633 yards and three touchdowns in his final season as a Cougar. Salina South also graduate Jace Varela, David Ollenberger and Caleb Copeland.
Senior Collin Schreiber is prepared to take a huge leap for 2020. In his first year of football, the lengthy target hauled in seven catches for 155 yards and two scores. Senior AJ Johnson will star as a defensive back, but his athletic frame will be featured on the offensive side as well. Seniors Jackson Hayes and Zach Davidson round out the group.
Three of the five starting offensive linemen are back. Junior Shae LeFort highlights the group after an impressive 2019. LeFort is a long tackle who battled with Division I talent last season. The extra weight put on this past offseason will make LeFort a solid lineman. Seniors Gio McCall and Chris Williams will lead the interior while junior Kayson Dietz will play both ways for 2020.
While Dietz is starting on offense for the first time, the 300-pounder has starred as a defensive lineman the last couple seasons. In 2019, the nose guard recorded 30 tackles and one for loss. Joining him up front is senior Nico Arias, who made important strides a season ago. Junior Trey Berland had an exceptional offseason, putting on 30 pounds and placing him in a position to start up front.
Kam Xaysongkham and Charlie Baird both graduated from last year’s team after leading the linebackers in tackles. Plenty of talent is back, however. Junior Jarrett Pittenger will transition to outside linebacker. Pittenger’s speed makes him an incredible asset on the edges. Senior Carter Kirby took huge steps as a junior. Kirby logged 50 tackles, including six for loss. Kirby’s cousin Drake Webb will be by his side after transferring from Bennington.
Johnson headlines the defensive back unit. The 6’3″ senior recorded 20 tackles and three interceptions last season. Johnson wants to build on those numbers, but also take another step forward in the leadership department. South’s leading tackler from 2019 is back in senior Owen Bulleigh. Although his older brother, Colby, won’t be next to him, Owen hopes to have another season like last year, making 87 tackles. Two athletic newcomers will join Johnson and Bulleigh. Senior Que Hill caught the eye of college recruiters in the offseason with his speed. Speaking of speed, senior Darell Evans has that, even though it was only featured on the basketball floor in 2019.
Although the schedule looks challenging, head coach Sam Sellers is extremely excited about the upcoming season. He believes there is more depth this season than in previous years, and he hopes that translates to more improvement for the program.
2020 schedule for Salina South Cougars (all kickoff times slated for 7 pm w/games on Y93.7 & ksal.com):
Sept. 4 – at McPherson
Sept. 11 – Maize South
Sept. 18 – Campus
Sept. 25 – at Derby
Oct. 2 – at Maize
Oct. 9 – Hutchinson
Oct. 16 – Newton
Oct. 23 – at Salina Central
Oct. 30 – PLAYOFFS
Day 1: Abilene Cowboys
Day 2: Bennington Bulldogs
Day 3: Ellsworth Bearcats
Day 4: Solomon Gorillas
Day 5: Smoky Valley Vikings
Day 6: Minneapolis Lions
Day 7: Southeast of Saline Trojans
Day 8: Ell-Saline Cardinals
Day 9: Sacred Heart Knights
Day 10: Salina South Cougars
Day 10: Salina Central Mustangs