The AVCTL Div. II has a whole new look in 2010. Here are my picks for the first year of the realigned league.
I’m going to go way out on a limb here and pick the Bullpups to win another league championship. McPherson’s offense will be fun to watch once again in 2010. Seven players from last year’s offense that averaged just short of 46 points-per-game are back for more. With all-state receiver Christian Ulsaker flanked by all-league receiver Nick Gawanda, plus first-team all-league backs Kevin O’Conner and Seth Davenport, the Bullpups will score however they want, whenever they want. Add in Goddard transfer Tyler Mathews at quarterback, and the only way this team doesn’t score is if they don’t show up to play. Coach Tom Young will not let that happen.
The only question with McPherson is whether or not they will stop anybody from scoring. All-league safety Kenan Warren is the only returning defensive starter. However, Young has 304 wins that each tell me this defense will be fine.
2. Andover Central
As cowardly as my pick to win the league is, I will get a little crazy with my runner up. Andover has had Central’s number over the past few years. Both teams return seven offensive players and six defensive players. But I think this season will belong to the Jaguars based on one thing: big nasty linemen on both sides of the ball.
With 6-5, 280-pound Boston Stiverson and 6-5, 270-pound Jens Danielsen, I’m glad I will never have to get in a three-point stance and look up at either of them, let alone both of them. Big talented linemen are essential at every level of football, and the Jaguars have them. The question for Central’s opponents is not whether they will be sore in bed on Saturday morning. It’s whether they will be in the right mindset to play on Friday without caring about the consequences.
Central has a returning quarterback in Landon Huslig, a returning tight end in Matt Clements, and a returning fullback in Aaron Hoy. With this kind of base, the Jaguar backs and receivers stand to have monster years.
Like its cross-town rival Central, Andover has seven returning offensive starters and six returning defensive starters. But one of the players Andover losses is quarterback Aaron Hansen who has taken the snaps in each of coach Mike Lee’s three seasons with the Trojans.
Even though Andover loses Hansen in the passing game, the Trojans have the talent at running back with Ben Croitoru and Blake Gumeringer, and a defense that will allow this team to make a legitimate run at a league title. Luke Linder and Jonathan Nye are two beasts on the defensive line, Jordan Ray can hit from the linebacker position, and Caleb Windholz can make plays in the secondary.
Goddard has struggled in recent years in Div. I. After a 1-8 season last year, the Lions will get an overhaul with a new head coach in Charlie Nally, and a new league. Like Andover Central, Goddard has two 270-pound linemen to move the line of scrimmage with 5-11 Jaden Wood and 6-4 Seth Roberts. The Lions have four upperclassmen at running back, giving them the ability to wear teams out with fresh legs up until the final gun.
Goddard also has a wealth of linebackers on the defensive side of the ball. With players in these positions, Nally has a good start in building what he says will not be a foo-foo offense or foo-foo defense. The Lions are going to hit.
5. Arkansas City
Ark City had a decent season last year at 4-5. The bad news is that they finished with an 0-3 losing streak once district games rolled around. The Bulldogs have a lot coming back with eight returning offensive starters, but the line of scrimmage will be suspect on both sides of the ball.
Skill positions will give Ark City a chance to win games. Brandon Young will take over at quarterback in the spread-option offense. Young was a receiver last year who can make plays with the ball. Justin Spencer returns after starting at running back as a sophomore last year. Head coach Derrin Wegner is high on Spencer, who stands at 6-1, 185 pounds and also plays linebacker. Whoever opponents put in charge of preparing ice packs will not see Spencer in the same light Wegner does. Ark City receiver Dylan Burroughs is a 6-3, 200-pound playmaker who stands to have a breakout season for the Bulldogs.
But without the proven experience on the line of scrimmage, Ark City is sitting at No. 5 for me.
6. Valley Center
The Hornets are coming off an 0-9 season last year. They have only four returning starters on each side of the ball. But Valley Center hopes it has a keeper in new head coach Pat Haxton. Haxton takes over at Valley Center after leading Southeast of Saline in a wildly successful program, highlighted by a 3A state championship in 2005.
Valley Center has some good things to build on. D.J. Crager, Austin Southards and Ryan Haxton make a corps of experienced linemen. Quarterback Adam Ingle takes the helm at quarterback, and Loi Tran gives Ingle a target to throw to.
Defensively, Jace Nibarger and Southards give a good base to the Hornets’ linebacker corps. But Valley Center needs Haxton to spark a change in culture at the school for this team to start climbing the ladder in a tough realigned Div. II.
How do you think the league will play out? Share your picks for the AVCTL Div. II and tell us why you made them!