Special to the Gardner News
Expectations are high for the 2010 Gardner Edgerton High School Football program.
One year after just missing the state championship, the ‘Blazers stand poised to claim the ultimate crown this season.
Local, state, and even nationwide media have certainly given this team some high marks.
GE is the consensus top ranked team in Kansas (all classes), is ranked third in the Kansas City area-ahead of 6A powerhouses such as Olathe North; and has been rated in some national polls.
It’s easy to see why the ‘Blazers are given all this praise.
Offensively, the squad is led by quarterback Bubba Starling and linemen Lucas Powell.
Starling, who has already signed a Division I letter of intent with the University of Nebraska, is considered by most to be the state’s top player and is rated as one of the top 100 prospects nationally. The 6-foot-5-inch senior is a talented playmaker both through the air and on the ground.
Powell is also being heavily recruited by Division I programs and is recognized as one of the top 15 players in the state.
These two are not the only superb players on the offensive side of the ball.
In the backfield two-year starter Brett Jensen and Ryan Weber both return for their senior seasons after having stellar junior campaigns. Jensen rushed for over 1,500 yards while Weber had nearly 900. Another senior, Tyler Stubler, will man the other backfield position at slotback. Stubler made several highlight reel catches last season and will look to do more of the same this year.
On the interior line, only one other starter besides Powell returns — senior Chris Martin. But the cupboard is certainly not bare. Juniors Cayden White and Greg Hopper and senior Mason Rodgers all are tough, hard-nosed players who are the leading candidates to take the other starting interior line positions.
Senior Alex Knorr has the tight-end position locked up while the split-end spot is being contested between Ryan Goetzman and Austin Goldsmsith. Knorr is not only a great pass catching tight end, he is a terrific blocker. Goetzman and Goldsmith are both looking to move up after getting experience with the JV team last season.
Defensively, the ‘Blazers return six starters from a unit that was one of the stingiest in the state last year.
Senior defensive end Daniel Mauszycki, senior defensive tackle Kyle Pacheco, and junior linebacker Brent Bovitz will lead coach Kris Henry’s unit. These three are all-state caliber performers who have performed well in early season drills and were dominant last season.
Other returning starters include free safety Ryan Newhouse, strong safety Marcus Williams, and cornerback Deon Shump.
While the other starting spots have not been completely decided, several players have stepped up and look to have the inside track for a coveted starting position.
Linebackers Garrett Schulz, Jeff Ragalnd, and Matt Plank, cornerback Colten Peavehouose, and defensive linemen Carlton Ridley and Cody Kidd have all looked good in season opening workouts.
The ‘Blazers begin the season at home tonight against fifth ranked (6A) Blue Valley West. This game also marks GE’s first in the rugged Eastern Kansas League — arguably the state’s best conference.
This contest is the first of three ‘Blazer games on television this season. The biggest one of those three being the Oct. 22 meeting with arch rival-Saint Thomas Aquinas which will be televised nationally on ESPNU. The other TV game is a road tilt against McPherson.
GE coach Marvin Diener is certainly enthusiastic about the upcoming season and getting to play in a better conference.
“We are very excited about the season and the new league. We are joining the EKL when it is as strong as it ever has been. You are going to have play well every Friday night if you expect to win. We are picked to win the league, and we like those expectations. Our staff feels very good about our team and our chances to make a deep run into the playoffs,” said the Gardner Edgerton coach.
With all of the hoopla surrounding this team it certainly is going to be a season you do not want to miss.