At the wingback position, junior Darion Hinton, sophomores Mar'kiece Gross and Brock Rawlings, and junior Jacques Carter could all see action. Jack Chandler, another outstanding senior who "can flat-out fly," was slated to see plenty of playing time there as well but might not be able to play this season after sustaining a back injury.
At center, Warden gives the Eagles a 6-foot-3, 265-pound performer who's a "coach's dream. He's everything you want to coach," Rawlings said. "He's got a great work ethic.
"Jake Warden is a special kid," Rawlings continued. "He's got great size, explosive hips and a lot of upside with really good balance and footwork. For a high school kid to use his hands as well as he does on the offensive line, and on the defensive side as well when he strikes, is impressive. He's got great tools that we can build on."
Warden will be backed at center by sophomore Garrett Elmy.
The offensive guard spots will be manned by seniors Sungmin Kim and Tyler Ellsworth, along with junior Markell Thomas and Elmy. The offensive tackles are Wiethira, Kramer, and sophomores Elijah Lenaburg and Isiah Morgan.
Over on defense, junior Markell Thomas, Warden and sophomore Sam Rockwell will be busy at D-tackle, while Smith, Greenhill, Ellsworth, Edwards and sophomore Fotoh Mbaku will see action at defensive end.
The linebacker corps includes Gross, Carter, Greenhill and junior Joe Reddish. Chandler, if he returns, and Yockey could play linebacker as well.
At cornerback, Brock Rawlings and junior Auston Woodward will see playing time along with McElroy and freshman Xavier Covington.
The safeties are Edwards, Aguilar, Whitby, Reddish and freshman Grayson Jackson.
Rawlings knows that last year's late-season run gave his program a lot more attention than it was accustomed to receiving. Nobody will be looking past the Eagles this year, that's for sure — and he's OK with that.
"I love my team's chances," Rawlings said. "Our philosophy is one that I adopted from my playing days, and I think I was instructed by some of the best around (including venerable Kansas State coach Bill Snyder). Our goals around here are simple: to try and get better every single day — every day with what we're doing, every play — and we measure ourselves and evaluate ourselves every day. If we get better, then we're doing the right things, and if we're not, then we've got to make changes.
"We'll take things one game at a time, and that's something these boys are really buying into, which really means a lot when you've got good ballplayers and good athletes that are willing to do that. We'll see what we can do with this thing."
Two-time defending 1A state champion Duchesne is looked upon as the team to beat in the 1A ranks again this season.
"Duchese is extremely well-coached," Rawlings said. "That's a machine, a well-oiled machine. They do a great job. They are a very well-disciplined football team, and they are competitors. I have a lot of respect for that coach, their community and their program."
And Rawlings was asked if his team had the horses to get back to the 1A title game again this year.
"Do we have the athletes and the ability to maybe get to that level? I think we do," he said. "But there's a lot of teams that are really good. Our league is strong; 1A is a strong league, and it's up for grabs.
"And the kids know and understand what kind of work it's gonna take to put them in a position to do that. They know what their goals are, but it's one step at a time. It's easy to have an end goal and write it down and look at it, but what are you willing to do to account for the interim and each step along the way that counts?"
Yep, it's the proverbial "taking 'em one game at a time" for the LCA coach.
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