Our High School Football Preview Tour continues to roll on.
The Rocking M Media sports staff is previewing the 2020 season, venturing to different parts of central Kansas.
The latest stop was in Gypsum, home to the Southeast of Saline Trojans.
For the second consecutive year, the Riley County Falcons ended the Trojans’ season. Southeast went 7-3 in 2019 with two of the three losses coming at the hands of the Falcons by a combined 10 points. Both RC and SES make the jump to Class 3A from 2A, but the Trojans don’t have to worry about the Falcons in district play.
However, Class 3A District 6 poses many challenges, highlighted by Scott City. Still, Southeast of Saline brings back a talented team, hungry to make a deep postseason run.
The past two years featured youth. Now, that young group is loaded with upperclassmen.
Quarterback Jaxson Gebhardt is back for one last round of football. In 2019, Gebhardt threw for 1,238 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for another 955 yards and four scores.
Joining him in the backfield is senior Bryant Banks. The powerful runner racked up 1,530 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns the past two seasons. Banks used this offseason to trim up and looks ready to run behind an experienced offensive line.
Leading the charge up front is senior Sterling Harp, an imposing lineman who can bench press 365 pounds and squat 550. Junior Dalton Bunch had an excellent summer, jumping up to 210 pounds after being 170 a season ago. Classmate Dawson Adams had a solid sophomore campaign and looks to build on the success of 2019. Senior Logan Sanders rounds out the set.
Those guys will also play on the defensive side of the ball. Junior Jasper McDowell was third on the team last season in tackles for loss. In all, he made 37 stops with two sacks. Braxton Blake will look to contribute as well.
Mostly everyone is back at linebacker for 2020. Spearheading the group is junior Matthew Rodriguez. The former sophomore led Southeast of Saline with 94 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and five sacks. Next to him is senior Tyler Breeding, who recorded 75 stops a season ago, and classmate Eli Harris, who accumulated 47 tackles and eight for loss. Southeast needs to account for the loss of Seth Ecklund, but coach Mitch Gebhardt is confident in this year’s group.
In the secondary, Gebhart excelled, intercepting seven passes from opposing quarterbacks. Junior Chase Poague and senior Eddie McVay both picked off a pass last season as well.
Expectations couldn’t be any higher for Southeast of Saline, but with all the pieces in place, the Trojans are primed for a big year.
2020 schedule for Southeast of Saline Trojans (all kickoff times slated for 7 pm):
Sept. 4 – Minneapolis
Sept. 11 – Beloit
Sept. 18 – Ellsworth
Sept. 25 – at Russell*
Oct. 2 – at Colby*
Oct. 9 – Goodland*
Oct. 16 – at Smoky Valley*
Oct. 23 – Scott City*
Oct. 30 – PLAYOFFS
*3A District 6 Game
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 (on Aug. 26)
Day 9: Sacred Heart Knights (on Aug. 27)
Day 10: Salina South Cougars (on Aug. 28)
Day 10: Salina Central Mustangs (on Aug. 28)