LITTLE RIVER— Little River High School football team was by far the best team in their district last season. They finished 7-3, 4-0 in their district, and were undefeated on the road. Despite that, the Redskins were inconsistent at home and never made it past the first round during the postseason where they lost to South Central High School 27-20. Head coach Chad Lafferty is confident about this season and will count on his returning seniors on another productive year.
On offense, Lafferty is excited to have his starting offensive line returning. Starting center Trey Baldwin will lead the Redskins' beefed up offensive line. He will be anchoring the line along with the two senior guards Kody Hawkinson and Ethan Schafer.
"This year our team’s success will greatly depend upon our offensive line," Lafferty said. "We have a lot of experience returning at those positions and if they can continue to build upon their success at the end of last season they have the potential to be very good."
Hunter Thomas returns in the backfield after leading the Redskins with 711 yards and seven touchdowns. He will also have a 6-foot 235 pounder Brayden Sears in front of him as the fullback and tight end. The quarterback position will be up for grabs after the departure of Levi Swenson. Sophomore Graham Stephens, who saw playing time at running back and led Little River in receiving yards, could be a candidate to the lead the huddle. Trey Rolfs, another sophomore, is also a possible candidate that could give Stephens the run for his money. Rolfs also plays cornerback on defense.
"Our skill players have decent speed and if our line can open up some gaps in the defense they have the capability of creating a big play," Lafferty said.
On Defense, Stephens, Sears, and Thomas made all-league last year and will be just as effective as they are on offense. Sears is the Redskins tackling machine after he racked up 103 total tackles last year, making him first-team in the Wheat State League. Thomas also made first-team as a defensive back and will make an impact in the secondary as their starting cornerback. Hawkinson and Schafer will lead Little River's defensive front as their pass rushers.
"Our defense returns some key players from last years team," Lafferty said. "We return the most experience in the defensive backfield and the defensive end position. Key to our defense is everyone doing their job and reading their keys. We will need to sure up the middle with a nose guard and another linebacker."
Little River has the size and the experience of reclaiming the Wheat State League title and get another crack at the state tournament. They will have their home-opener against Canton-Galva High School, and then the next two are back-to-back away games. They will finish their season on the road against Moundridge High School. With the Redskins deadly on the road than they are at home, this could be another dominant season for Little River.
Little River 2018 SCHEDULE
8/31 vs. Canton-Galva
9/7 at Peabody
9/14 at Bennington
9/21 vs. Central Plains
9/28 vs. Pratt-Skyline
10/5 at Macksville
10/12 vs St. John
10/19 at Moundridge
Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_orour sports page @MacCountySports