COFFEYVILLE — A late-season push, including a trip to the regional round of the Class 4A playoffs, gave the Coffeyville-Field Kindley Golden Tornado a much-needed boost heading into the offseason.
Unfortunately, coming off a 5-5 campaign, the ‘Nado lost several key figures from that squad and will now be relying on some younger players to fill in key roles.
“We graduated a lot of our starters last season, so it will be fun to see who emerges and who wins these position battles,” said Golden Tornado head coach Darrin Wegner, who begins his fourth season at the helm. “We are not deep. We need to be in great shape and stay injury free.”
Last season, Field Kindley opened things up by dropping four of its first six games but picked things up late in the year. In fact, the ‘Nado won their final two games of the regular season and followed that up by earning a 46-12 home win over El Dorado in the opening round of the new Class 4A West playoffs. Although its season came to an end with a 28-6 loss to Arkansas City in the regional round, it was able to cap things off at .500 overall.
Gone from last year’s squad are quarterback Jaylen Logan (Coffeyville Community College) and wide receiver CJ Kelley (Bethany College). Logan led the Southeast Kansas League in scoring a year ago while accounting for nearly 2,700 yards of offense (1,693 rushing and 997 passing). Kelley, who competed in the Kansas Shrine Bowl over the summer, was All-SEK Second Team after finishing with 49 catches for 468 yards and four touchdowns.
Field Kindley has only six starters back this season — three on offense and three on defense. That includes senior Jayden Crawford on the offensive and defensive line, junior Darell Jones at wide receiver and cornerback, junior Ethan Camp at linebacker and junior Brady White on the offensive line.
Other returning players that should contribute are junior Aaron Rutherford at quarterback, junior Jacobi Sharpe at wide receiver and linebacker, junior Nick Morris on the offensive and defensive line, junior Jaden Erne at quarterback and running back, junior James O’Conner at running back and linebacker and senior Chris Crosetto on both sides of the line.
“Depth is a major concern,” Wegner said. “We will only have a few seniors, so we will be young. It will be important for our junior class to emerge.”
The Golden Tornado will once again be battling for postseason positioning in the West bracket of Class 4A. That means each and every game counts in seeding along the way.
Things will be a challenge from the start with the season opener at home on Sept. 6 against Fort Scott to open up Southeast Kansas League action at Veterans Memorial Stadium. That will be followed by a non-league trip to Columbus on Sept. 13 before back-to-back league games — at home with Labette County on Sept. 20 and at rival Independence on Sept. 27.
Only one other SEK game remains on the schedule at Chanute on Oct. 18. The rest of the games will be non-league matchups, including home with Mulvane on Oct. 4 and Christ Prep Academy on Oct. 25, as well as a visit to Abilene on Oct. 11.