Seniors on this year’s Longhorn football team include, from from left, Jace Clevenger, Jose Medrano, Caine Haarberg, back, Blake Schilke, Caleb Weiss, Eli Hinojosa and Jack Bauerle. Not pictured—Brady Gittlein. (Johnson Publications photo)
Football season opens at Cozad Friday
Nine returning starters from last year’s 8-2 team will provide the foundation for the Chase County Longhorns’ fall football campaign.
This year’s roster totals 37 players including eight seniors, eight juniors, 15 sophomores and six freshmen.
Seniors include Blake Schilke, Caleb Weiss, Eli Hinojosa, Jack Bauerle, Jace Clevenger, Jose Medrano, Caine Haarberg and Brady Gittlein.
Head Coach Dan Lenners said Gittlein will join the team next week. He’s been unable to participate in preseason practice after his brother was seriously injured in a rollover accident.
Lenners said the last two and half weeks of practice have been going well and likes the progress he’s seen thus far.
Since his squad isn’t especially long on depth, he said some of the younger kids have been getting some reps.
Offensively, Weiss will lead the team, making this his third year as the starting quarterback for the Longhorns.
Lenners said his throwing has improved from last year so he’s expecting good things.
Weiss got plenty of throwing experience this summer in 7-on-7 league in North Platte.
No lineman are involved—only backs and receivers. While there’s no rush, quarterbacks have to release the ball within four seconds. Otherwise it’s a sack.
This year, Weiss will be throwing to split end Parker Dillan, tight ends Braden Space and Trevor Peterson, and backs Evan Fisher, Kadin Vrbas and Scott Wheeler.
Fisher will line up as the fullback with Vrbas and Wheeler sharing the tailback and wingback positions.
Weiss will be protected by senior center Jace Clevenger, senior guards Eli Hinojosa and Jack Bauerle, with senior Caine Haarberg and sophomore Mikael at the tackle positions.
Lenners said junior Logan Mendenhall and sophomore Blaine Dorn will see some action on the line. He expects sophomore Bennett Bauerle to get some back-up work in the backfield.
On the defensive side of the ball, expect the Longhorns to line up in a four-man front.
They’ll be a five-man rotation with Hinojosa and Haarberg at the ends and J. Bauerle, Kuhlman and Clevenger sharing the other two spots on the line.
He said he has four that can play the two inside linebacker positions, including Space, Peterson, B. Bauerle and sophomore Levi Nance.
Vrbas and Fisher will be at the inside linebacker position, Dillan and Wheeler at the corners and Weiss at safety.
Lenners said they’ve been putting players at the various linebacker and defensive backfield positions so they can play different positions if necessary.
Dillan will handle the punting with Hinojosa doing the long snapping. Space will do the place kicking and field goal kicking, with Wheeler as the holder.
Lenners said Hayden Bahler has been doing a good job of kicking the ball as well.
The Longhorns will seek to repeat as the C1-8 District champions. District champions automatically qualify for the C1 playoffs.
The Longhorns will get four games under their belts before opening district play at Ogallala Sept. 22.
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