Our Rocking M Media High School Football Tour comes to a close.
Every day this week, the staff at KSAL Sports is previewing the 2018 season, venturing to different parts of central Kansas.
The final stop was at Salina Central High School, home of the Mustangs.
Salina Central enters 2018 following back-to-back winless seasons. Central almost snapped the streak last year, falling to Andover 26-14 and then Arkansas City 24-21.
The energy is back up with the hiring of Mark Sandbo. Sandbo went to Dodge City in 2011 after spending three years as athletic director of Lincoln High School. In his first season on the Red Demon coaching staff, he coached quarterbacks. That role stayed the same when he was promoted to offensive coordinator four seasons ago. The former Smoky Valley Viking has experience as a signal caller, throwing for NCAA Division-II’s Fort Hays State University.
Coach Sandbo’s practices feature uptempo play with the offense switching to a full spread look. That has the squad excited, especially junior quarterback Jackson Kavanagh. In three games last year, Kavanagh threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 162 yards and a score. Creating separation of the field should also help senior tailback Taylon Peters. Peters was just shy of a 1,000-yard campaign in 2017, accumulating 981 yards and seven touchdowns. The offseason was good to Peters, who trimmed up and received an offer from Emporia State.
On the edges, receiver Riley Counts is the main pass-catching threat. The senior recorded 12 receptions for 196 yards and a touchdown in 2017. He also ran for 210 yards and a score.
The defense brings back seven starters, not including two vital players who missed all of 2017. Safety Ben Driver was denied a junior season because of a broken jaw during the summer. As a sophomore, he made 62 stops. Linebacker Greg Gibson’s story was a bit different as he battled osteosarcoma, aka bone cancer. Both are gamechangers and look ready for big years.
Joining Gibson in the linebackers group is Michael Russell and Drew Burgoon. Russell only played in three games last year, but has a chance to take the next step in 2018. Burgoon played all nine games and recorded 54 tackles and a sack.
The secondary returns Jere’ Thomas and Gage Prester. Thomas had 24 wrap-ups to go with his team-leading four pass breakups. Prester appeared in all nine contests, racking up 24 tackles as a cornerback.
Junior Quinton Stewart anchors the defensive line as a physically imposing DE. Stewart was second on the team with five tackles for loss while coming up with 43 stops. Seniors Fernando Rodriguez and Josh Morrow strengthen the trenches.
Following the Mustangs all season with live play-by-play every week on Sports Radio 1150 KSAL, ksal.com and the Rocking M Media app.
|Sept. 7||at Derby||7:00pm|
|Sept. 14||Salina South||7:00pm|
|Oct. 5||at Newton||7:00pm|
|Oct. 12||at Maize||7:00pm|