A balance of remaining healthy and embracing a group of speedy players is the key to the 2019 Iola Mustang football campaign.
“2018 was a season of ups and downs. We got off to a rough start and sustained some massive injuries by losing three key players early in the season. We were able to fight back and show some growth and grit to compete in games later in the season.” Said 3rd year Mustang Head Coach David Daugharthy.
Iola graduated three offensive linemen last year, but with the injuries sustained plenty of underclassmen picked up valuable varsity playing time.
“We went through five centers last year, and we lost three lineman due to season-ending injuries. We have moved some smaller kids to the line, but they are aggressive. If we become aggressive upfront and attack the opponents, our offense will take off.” Noted the Mustangs coach.
Iola will operate with the Flexbone Offensive Scheme. Directing the offense this year will be first-year starter junior Bradyn Cole.
Leading the Iola football team will be senior running back Casen Barker at 5’8′, 170lbs., who transitions from the quarterback position last year.
Barker will have 2nd Team Pioneer League running back Isaac Badders, a junior this year, to also carry the rock.
Daugharthy believes it will be his defensive to be the bright spot of the season.
“We have seven returners on defense in key spots, and these athletes do their job extremely effectively. They are fast and fly to the ball. With all the experience we have there, I think we will be able to execute extremely well.”
Iola will once again use the 3-4 defense, and the depth at linebacker should benefit the Mustangs.
The defensive side returns Barker, who was 2nd Team Pioneer League Linebacker last year, along with Badders, a linebacker, along with senior linebacker Karson McGraw.
“I think we have a vastly different team this year. We have a lot of athletes that I believe can play on the varsity level. Numbers are up here as well, and the kids are bought in.” noted Daugharthy.
Iola will host Anderson County, Osawatomie, and Prairie View this year but will have to travel to Burlington and Girard in their district.
The Mustangs have not been to the playoffs since 2016 before Daugharthy became the head coach.
“I believe we have the capability to compete for a league and district.”
Follow the Iola Mustangs Football team results on Eastern Kansas Sports with their team page in the Pioneer League.