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Loaded Junior Class Ready To Step Up For Frontenac Football

Loaded Junior Class Ready To Step Up For Frontenac Football

The Frontenac football program finished the regular season in 2019 8-0. The Raiders enjoyed two playoff wins over CNC rivals Girard and Galena before being bounced by Topeka-Hayden in the quarterfinals.

Going into 2020, 9th-year Raiders head coach Mark Smith is eyeing two areas of focus for his team: veteran leadership and turnovers.

“The best part of (last) season was seeing the improvement from our kids from the 2018 season to the 2019 season,” said Smith. “This was a really fun group to be around, and hopefully we can learn from last year and take the next steps necessary to be successful.”

Despite an offense that averaged close to 31 points per game last season, Smith would like to see the Frontenac football team turn the ball over less.

“We had way too many turnovers last season,” noted Smith. “We had a tremendous defense all season, but we hurt ourselves on offense by not taking care of the ball good enough.”

Last season, the Raiders defense surrendered an average of one score a game, including three shut outs.

The Raiders defense welcomes back five starters. That includes 1st Team All-State defensive lineman Cruze Blair and defensive end Landon Dean.

Joining them are juniors Collin McCartney, who earned 1st Team All-CNC defensive end last season and Lane Franklin.

The defensive line enters 2020 with a combined weight of 875 lbs.

Ty Gates, 6’2″ 180 lbs, is the lone returning defensive starter that is a senior. Gates garnered All-CNC Honorable Mention at cornerback a year ago.

The Raiders have plenty of juniors ready to step up and fill the voids left by the graduating class.

Senior Griffin Souder and Jay Karliskint should see plenty of time on the defensive and offensive lines.

Seniors Dylan Ensch and Clay Jameson will step up to fill some of the voids in linebacker. In the secondary, Storm Niegsch, 6’1″ 180 lbs., Bennie Adarr, and Conner Taylor are expected to roam the field.

“We will be looking for great leadership from our upperclassmen,” said the Raider coach. “Especially from players like Storm Niesgsch, Ty Gates, Griffin Souder, Dylan Ensch, and Alex Storey.”

Of the group, as many as eight begin the 2020 season with varsity experience carrying over from last season.

Offensively the Raiders will need new leaders to step up and make a difference.

Frontenac football has just two starters from last year returning. Blair and 6’1″ 210 lbs senior tight end Alex Storey.

“We lost a great group on the offensive line that we will have to replace as well as a full backfield,” said Smith. “We lost a lot of team speed last year, so we will need some of our younger kids to step up and get ready to have bigger roles this season.”

Niegsch is listed at running back, in addition to linebacker, but he will have Mario Menghini competing for carries. Menghini is a sophomore that stands tall at 6’1″ 180 lbs.

The Frontenac Football roster lists 9 juniors who will impact the 2020 season for the Raiders.

On the schedule, Frontenac slides over into a new district for the next two seasons. The Raiders will compete with Pioneer League members Anderson County, Burlington, Iola, and Prairie View along with CNC member Girard for a spot in the 3A state playoffs.

“We understand how challenging the tough 3A has been, so we must improve each day to win the big games when it matters,” said Smith.

Frontenac beings the season on the road against CNC rival Columbus on Friday, September 4th, 2020.

(Keep up with Frontenac Football this season on the Eastern Kansas Sports Football section)

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