(Thank you to Cam Johnston and James McCarthy for contributing to this article)
After a historic season in the Prairie View football record books, the 2020 Buffaloes squad will have their work cut out for them. It was just the second time they had advanced in the playoffs in 50 years. 5 players earned All-State recognition, and 4 will be playing on Saturday this year.
Kyle Littrell returns for his fourth year as head coach of the Buffaloes. Last year’s football team set school records for the most yards of total offense (4,000), most rushing yards (3,000), and tied for most shutouts (5).
Prairie View’s football team loses offensive juggernaut’s Justin Scott and Hunter Boone to graduation. The pair combined for 6,000 total yards and 80 touchdowns in the high school careers.
The battle for the starting quarterback position is down to Juniors Damien Kline and Kaden Walker. Whoever wins the position battle, they will start their first varsity game under center.
In the backfield, the Buffaloes return plenty of varsity experience. 50% of the rushing production returns in 2020. Senior Otis Jacobs is an exciting player to watch and should carry a majority of the ground game for Prairie View. Kline is a threat with his feet and arm, adding even more versatility to the offense.
Last season, Jacobs recorded over 700 yards and four touchdowns and earned 2nd Team All-League honors. Kline chipped in 600 yards of rushing and four touchdowns as well in his sophomore year. Gage Pugh and Kyle Waterman should figure in to the ground game as well.
Plenty of Prairie View student-athletes will have their opportunity to compete for a role in the skills positions. They will have to replace 600 yards (25 per catch) and 4 tds from the graduated Dilan Schweer. Top receiving producers that return for the Buffaloes include juniors Bodi Isenhower, who received All-League consideration, and Zach Theis. Walker should factor into the line and downfield play, as well. He is listed at 6’4″ tall at the start of the season and could factor in as a tight end, should he lose out on the quarterback position.
Speaking of the line, Prairie View is looking for a new mixture up front after losing three solid players to graduation, including Fort Scott Community College’s Chanz Gerleman. 2nd Team All-League junior Colton McCammon leads the offensive line experience.
As for the defensive line, losing All-Stater, leading tackler, and leading sacker Chase Bloodgood hurts. Senior Chris Law lends his experience to the depleted unit. Law’s season came to an end towards the end of the year due to a foot injury. Kyle Waterman has shown a knack for getting to the qb. Colby Garretson, Andrew Reynolds, and Noah Nordgren are just some of the names that could develop this season for Prairie View.
Moving towards the linebackers and secondary, the Buffaloes do return over half of their tacklers from a year ago. 2nd Team All-League Linebacker Colton McCammon takes over for 3-year starter Hunter Boone. He will lead the middle of the defense along with Otis Jacobs. Zach Nordgren has been making noise this off season as well. Kline, Isenhower, Garrett Cullor, and Logan Minden will patrol the secondary and attempt to replicate the 8 interceptions by Schweer last season.
There will be a new punter this year, but Damien Kline was All-League last year as a kicker and has shown a strong leg on kickoffs.
The Prairie View football team’s schedule includes a mixture of Pioneer and CNC League teams.
From the CNC, 3A powerhouse Frontenac joins the battle for a playoff spot along with Girard. Under 9th-year head coach, and former D2 Pitt State quarterback, Mark Smith the Raiders have never had a losing season.
As for Pioneer League rivals, Anderson County, Burlington and Iola will mix it up with Prairie View. All three teams bring back experience, athleticism, and talent.
The Buffaloes begin the 2020 season against Pioneer League rival Santa Fe Trail on Friday, September 4th, 2020.