In a district that put teams in the Class 3A playoffs with a combined record of 31 and 13, including Perry-Lecompton, who lost to Andale in the 3A State Football Championship game, Santa Fe Trail has their eyes set on a deep run in this year’s playoffs.
When asked about the biggest challenge of last season, Chargers coach Jayson Duncan, who is entering into his 11th season as head coach, quickly pointed to the schedule.
“No doubt, our schedule. I feel like we were one of the top 10 teams in our classification.”
“Every team we lost to won a playoff game. We were a very good team (that) played a tough schedule.”
This season’s schedule shows no signs of letting up.
The non-district portion of the Chargers schedule puts Santa Fe Trail at home against Pioneer League rival Prairie View in the season opener and then week three against Anderson County.
However, in a district with Topeka-Hayden, Perry-Lecompton, Baldwin, Bishop Ward, and league foe Osawatomie, they will only play two games at home in competing for a playoff spot. The Chargers will play host to only Baldwin and Bishop Ward.
On the playing field, Santa Fe Trail will have a group of returning seniors that could light up the scoreboard on the Santa Fe Trail side of the scoreboard on Friday nights.
1st Team Offense and Defensive Player Zack Baker return for the Chargers. The 5’7″ 171 lbs. senior caught 34 passes for 499 yards and 5 touchdowns while rushing for 281 yards with 3 touchdowns. On defense, he recorded with 43 total tackles, 4 interceptions, and an interception.
This year, joining in the production will also be senior running back McClain Weekly, wide receiver Tyler Duncan, and Brody Smith.
Weekly had 624 yards rushing last season and 8 touchdowns on the ground. Duncan and Smith combined for 235 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns.
“With Tyler, McClain, and Zack, they can make a big play at any time. We will be as athletic as we have ever been,” said the Chargers head coach.
Duncan expects that to carry over to the defense as well.
“I also expect our defense to be faster than it has been in the past.”
In addition to Weekly and Baker being 2-way starters, and Weekly returning as an Honorable Mention All-League Defense, junior Nick Noriega at 5’9″ 227 lbs. will look to be a wall to get past for opposing offensive teams.
The defense will need that speed and skill if they hope to improve upon the 28 points allowed per game from last year.
“We have a winning tradition, and I expect that to continue,” said Duncan.