CANTON — In just four years, Shelby Hoppes has turned around the Canton-Galva High School football program into a state-championship caliber team.


Canton-Galva’s storybook 2019 season ended with an 8-Man Division I State Championship to cap off a 13-0 season.


It was just five years ago the Eagles finished with a 2-7 record, which was not out of the norm. Starting in 2017, Canton-Galva finished 4-5. Then came a 10-2 season that saw the Eagles reach the 8-Man Division I Semifinals.


Last year was the finishing touches on one of the greatest turnarounds in Kansas high school football, as the Eagles captured their first state championship in program history.


Canton-Galva defeated St. Francis 66-36 for the state title. In case you missed it, the Eagles were down 36-0 at one point, but rallied off 66 unanswered points to stun everyone in attendance - most notably the St. Francis sideline.


Gone is a talented senior class, including quarterback/defensive back Landon Everett. But the cupboard is far from empty as wide receiver/defensive back Tyson Struber will headline the Eagles in 2020.


Struber, a junior who has offers from Kansas and Kansas State, was a First Team All-State selection by both the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle as a receiver and a defensive back. Struber was also selected as Sports in Kansas Defensive Player of the Year.


Struber will receive most of the attention, but he’s not a one-man show. The Eagles return five starters on offense and four on defense and have a legitimate shot of defending their crown.


"With making playoff runs the last two years, we return a lot of experience playing at a high level against top competition which should set us up this year for another deep run," Hoppes said. "This year’s team returns lots of size and athleticism at multiple positions which will make us competitive in all three facets of the game."


On offense, offensive linemen Keaton Littrell, Tyler Rummel, and Connor Koehn will pave the way for running back Bryaden Collins.


Sophomore Garrett Maltbie is expected to take over for Everett at quarterback, and if the Eagles can develop another receiver or two, there’s no reason Canton-Galva can’t have one of the top offenses in 8-Man once again.


Defensively, it’s the linebacker position that will lead the way. Brandon Huff earned First Team All-State honors from the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Wichita Eagle, and Collins also returns at linebacker to form a formidable duo.


Koehn returns at defensive end, and Struber will lead the way as one of the top defensive backs in the state. The Canton-Galva defense recorded shutouts in seven of 13 games last season and should be stingy once again.


"One of the challenges this year will be overall depth after graduating a large senior class," Hoppes said. "We will need young players to step in and fill those rolls that the 2019 seniors left."


Canton-Galva opens the season on Sept. 4 at Goessel. The Eagles’ home opener is the following week when they host Rural Vista.