AFTON - This is an intriguing opener for Afton.
The retooling Eagles take on Kiefer, which enjoyed success in eight-man football and is transitioning back to the 11-man game.
“They are loaded as far as returning starters,” Afton head coach Zach Gardner said. “We will have our hands full. Their scrimmage film is all we have to scout them on. It's kinda hard to anticipate what they are going to do besides what you have seen. They probably stayed pretty vanilla too (in the scrimmage).”
The Trojans made the transition to eight-man football after going 0-10 in 2004. They hovered around the .500 mark for the next four seasons, then improved to 9-3 in Josh Calvert’s second season.
They’ve been 11-2 the past two seasons, falling to Davenport in the Class B semifinals.
They were picked to finish fourth in District A-7 in one preseason poll.
Ryne Gregor and Justin Rovang are battling for the start at quarterback. Gregor was the starter last season.
Carlos Lozoya, the Trojans defensive MVP a year ago, will lead the way on that side of the ball.
The Eagles are retooling after losing a number of starters on both side of the ball to graduation.
“Defense is what is going to keep us in ballgames,” Gardner said. “Offensively, we’re going to try score enough to win. Hopefully we can create turnovers and play very physical. We need to play ball control and score points when we can.”
The Eagles are working on a streak of qualifying for the Class A playoffs for the past seven seasons.
They went 7-3 during the regular season in 2011, finishing third with a 3-2 record.
Morrison ended Afton’s season with a 47-28 romp in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
The Eagles went up against Oklahoma Union Saturday in their only pre-season scrimmage.
“We have a lot of room for improvement,” Gardner said, “but we've got to be willing to get there. We've got to get ourselves to where we can compete a little better.”
Afton also has been trying to settle things at quarterback, where Zack Dodson and Cooper Mitchell are in the running.
Mitchell filled in when Fuser missed a handful of games last season with an ankle injury, but he was only released on Aug. 15 while recovering from a summer injury.
“Dodson has done a good job,“ Gardner said. “He hasn’t played quarterback in the past for us, but he’s very intelligent at the position and can get the job done as well.”
Left tackle Dillon Johnson has been rated as one of the top 100 linemen in Oklahoma by Vype, a sports magazine focusing on high school sports in the state.
Twin brother Austin Johnson, listed on a select team for Class A according to Gardner, has been move from right guard to right tackle.
“We need to control the clock, retain possession and we need to move the chains,” Gardner said. “That will be our philosophy right now. We will be physical on the offensive side of the football. We’re not going to try to finesse people.”