Our High School Football Preview Tour continues to roll on.
The Meridian Media sports staff is previewing the 2021 season, venturing to different parts of central Kansas.
The latest stop was in Ellsworth, home to the Bearcats.
Season number four under coach Josh Homolka had a rough start. The Bearcats held team camp right before jumping into official practice. Then Ellsworth was in quarantine because of COVID-19, forcing the Bearcats to forfeit their week one game against Sacred Heart.
After the pause in action, Ellsworth returned to the field and lost its next three games. Then district play started and the young Bearcats pulled off a win against Norton. Two weeks later, Ellsworth battled Phillipsburg and almost secured the win to advance to the postseason.
Some important seniors moved on from that 2-6 team, but plenty of young talent turned into experienced players for the 2021 campaign.
In previous years, Ellsworth relied on a heavy rushing attack. The quarterbacks will still focus on the run, but coach Homolka has been impressed with their ability to throw. Sophomore Will Cravens and senior Dayton Davis both can sling the ball down field.
Davis can turn into a receiving threat to go with a lengthy target in Cole Webber. The 6’4″ sophomore pairs with junior Chase Bourbon at the tight end position to help the offense.
Those guys are key for Ellsworth’s rushing prowess, but so is the offensive line. Senior center Tucker Huseman is the anchor for this unit to go with a couple of “young guns”. Sophomores Jordan Rodriguez and Brendan Anderson excelled down the stretch last season for the Bearcats. The offensive line will look to take the next step this season.
Senior Brad Vopat takes over as the main tailback. Vopat hopes to fill the void left by Luke Sharp, who was the top rusher a season ago. Vopat will be just as important on defense. He led the Bearcats in tackles.
Sophomore Loden West is one of the top returning tacklers as well. Wyatt Bohnen, and Webber will join West at the linebackers spot.
Sophomore defensive back Josh Rodriguez improved quite a bit after being thrown into the fire as a freshman. Davis and Cravens will be with him in the secondary group.
The Bearcats made huge strides late last season after dealing with a bumpy beginning. If Ellsworth can take that improvement and turn it into more progress, the Bearcats will be more competitive in 2021.
2021 Ellsworth Bearcats Football Schedule:
Sept. 3 – at Sacred Heart
Sept. 10 – at Republic County
Sept. 17 – Southeast of Saline
Sept. 24 – Beloit
*Oct. 1 – at Norton
*Oct. 8 – Hoisington
*Oct. 15 – at Phillipsburg
*Oct. 22 – Minneapolis
Oct. 29 – PLAYOFFS
*Denotes 2A District 8 game
Day 1: Abilene Cowboys
Day 2: Bennington Bulldogs
Day 3: Ellsworth Bearcats
Day 4: Solomon Gorillas (on Aug. 19)
Day 5: Smoky Valley Vikings (on Aug. 20)
Day 6: Minneapolis Lions (on Aug. 23)
Day 7: Southeast of Saline Trojans (on Aug. 24)
Day 8: Ell-Saline Cardinals (on Aug. 25)
Day 9: Sacred Heart Knights (on Aug. 26)
Day 10: Salina South Cougars (on Aug. 27)
Day 10: Salina Central Mustangs (on Aug. 27)