PITTSBURG -- Fort Scott and Parsons, a pair of programs that have combined to win four games in the past two seasons, were voted to tie for last place in the nine-team Southeast Kansas League in one of four coaches' polls released here Thursday at the annual KSEK Radio Media Day.
The Tigers, 1-8 last season, were voted there despite the return to the head coaching position of Bob Campbell, who won 124 games at the helm from 1992 to 2005.
Chanute, the defending champion, received seven first-place votes and was named the favorite to repeat. Independence, an improving program under Carl Boldra, was picked second with two first-place votes. Pittsburg followed in third with Coffeyville voted fourth, Columbus fifth, Labette County sixth and Iola seventh.
The Three Rivers League was invited for the first time. Oswego was picked to be the best team in 11-man play -- although any title claimed will be unofficial as only three schools currently play 11-man -- while St. Paul was chosen to lead the eight-man division.
Uniontown was picked to tie with Northeast-Arma, the TRL's newcomer, in 11-man play while Pleasanton was picked fourth out of the six eight-man teams.
Galena was the pick to win the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee (CNC) League. Colgan was included in the poll and voted second even though the Panthers are ineligible to win the championship because they can only play four league games. That is due to the district structure in Class 2-1A changing to eight districts of five or six teams each from 16 districts with three or four teams.
The man known as "B.C." to many knows that the game has changed in the four years that he's been working in private business. Video tape has become obsolete, replaced by DVD's as the current study tool.
Another thing that doesn't change is that it takes time to build a program. It's been largely forgotten that the first time around, Campbell's first three seasons ended with records of 5-4, 5-4 and 3-6.
"The challenge I've had this time is just getting to know the kids," Campbell told the media. "But in the last 2 1/2 months, the kids have improved tremendously. How that translates to Friday nights, we don't know yet."
Campbell chose not to name any individual players but said that the kids have "bought in" to the program.
"They're excited about improving," Campbell said. "What we're looking for is some seniors who are willing to step up and provide leadership."
Chanute's Don Simmons says the Blue Comets, 8-2 last year, have eight starters returning offensively but are looking for a quarterback. He's tried five players there over the summer and has narrowed the search down to three: A passer, a runner and a "dual threat."
Indy's Boldra, whose Bulldogs have won 13 games the last two seasons (8-3 last season) after winning just two in his first three years there, said he has eight offensive starters returning -- but didn't say much else in a brief speech.
Pittsburg's Merle Clark is looking for a playmaker to replace graduated Keenan Soles. He also anticipates a tough Class 5A district run since the Purple Dragons (4-5) were assigned to face Gardner-Edgerton (only loss was to Hutchinson in the Class 5A title game), Blue Valley-Stilwell (Class 6A semifinalist despite a losing record) and St. Thomas Aquinas (lost two games -- both to Gardner-Edgerton).
Murray Zogg is the new coach at Coffeyville and says he is instilling discipline on the Golden Tornado (5-5) who haven't been able to take advantage of their talent the past few seasons. Cameron Craig returns with two 1,000-yard receiving seasons under his belt and may be used sometimes as a Wildcat quarterback.
Dan Grundy may be rebuilding in Columbus (8-3) this season with only two starters back on offense and four on defense.
Shane Holtzman takes over at Labette County (5-5) where change has been a constant over the summer. One of the few things that will be the same is his quarterback, senior Keaton Turner, who is a third-year starter.
Iola (3-6) lost a lot of seniors and head coach Rick Horton has been disappointed in the turnout for summer conditioning, even though it's been better than in the past. Marcus Sullivan returns at tailback and Charles Apt will be the quarterback.
Parsons (0-9) has yet to win a game for Dustin Perkins in two seasons. The Vikings were a very young team with 11 sophomore starters last season. Junior running back Tre' Nash has started since midway through his freshman season and will also move to outside linebacker on defense.
Uniontown head coach Chad Stroud has seven returning starters. However, there may only be about 25 players on the roster, which includes four seniors and four freshmen.
"Depth is going to hurt us," Stroud said. "The big challenge is our schedule. With the jump up to Class 3A, we aren't sure what to expect."
Pleasanton moves down from 11-man football and head coach Tim Casper had perhaps the best line of the day.
"We have eight starters back on both sides of the ball," he said. "And this being eight-man, that's all you really need."
St. Paul coach Doug Tuck says the entire starting backfield returns for the Indians but they'll need to be stronger up front. Crest's Brent Smith says his team will look to make its mark with a strong defense.
The coaches votes in each of the three leagues that were guests at the KSEK Media Day Thursday at Pittsburg:
|1. Chanute (7)||64|
|2. Independence (2)||59|
|6. Labette County||35|
|8. Fort Scott||21|
|1. Oswego (5)||15|
|2. Northeast (1)||9|
|1. St. Paul (5)||25|
|2. Crest (1)||19|
|3. Marmaton Valley||16|
|1. Galena (5)||47|
|2. Colgan (3)||44|
|3. Baxter Springs||34|
NOTES: Coaches could not vote for their own teams....First-place votes in parenthesis...Colgan was included in the CNC poll but is ineligible to be included in standings due to the fact that Class 2-1A district restructuring will allow it to play only four league games....The 11-man championship for the Three Rivers League is unofficial as there are only three teams...Three 8-man coaches voted in the TRL 11-man poll....