Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Marion County Football Preview


By Brad Hallier


Ad Astra Radio will preview area high school football teams, based on county, before the season opener Sept. 1. Here is the preview for Kingman County.

Previous previews:

Stafford County

Harvey County

McPherson County

Kingman County

Goessel Bluebirds

Coach: Garrett Hiebert, 12th season (41-52)

Classification: Eight-player Division 1

District: 4

2022: 4-5

Postseason: Lost to Wichita Independent 56-36

Best postseason finish: Quarterfinals 1996, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2020, 2021.

Top returning players: Kyle Valdois, sr., OL; Noah Schrag, sr., DB; Jake Flaming, sr., RB/DB; Eli Bolden, sr., OL/LB; Klay Willis, sr., TE; Luke Stucky, jr., OL/DL; Adam Wonser, jr., DL

Key game: Oct. 13 at Moundridge. This could go a long way to deciding the district championship, and these teams played a barnburner last year, with Moundridge winning in two overtimes.

Outlook: Few teams were unluckier last year than Goessel, which was beset by injury upon injury. And still. Goessel went 4-5 and battled a good Wichita Independent team in the first round of the playoffs. The injuries did allow for some development, and the Bluebirds have some good pieces back this year, especially in the trenches. Ignore last year’s record. If Goessel doesn’t get hit by injury again, the Bluebirds will win plenty of games.

Hillsboro Trojans

Coach: Demetrius Cox, fifth season (22-17)

Classification: 2A

District: 5

2022: 2-7

Postseason: Lost to Kingman 49-7

Best postseason finish: Semifinals, 1981, 1986, 2006

Top returning players: Dawson Boldt, sr., QB; Zander Haslett, sr., LB/TE; Anders Weisbeck, jr., LB/RB; Nash Dickinson, jr., OT/DE; Levi Smith, sr., SS/Ath.; Lincoln Wichert, jr., FS/Ath.; Wyatt Plenert, sr., CB/SB; Seth Driggers, jr., CB/WR; Sutton Redger, so., LB; Noah Beavers, jr., DE/TE; Colin Voss, jr., C/DT; Jesiah Gooch, so., RB/LB.

Key game: Sept. 29 at Halstead. There are a lot of unknowns with Southeast of Saline, the runaway district winner from last year, and runner-up Ellsworth. Both got hit by graduation. Halstead and Hillsboro, however, return a lot. 

Outlook: Hillsboro was on the brink of playing for the state title in 2021, but last year’s team was young. With so much back, and Cox firmly planting his stamp on this program, expectations are high. A couple early games with Haven and Nickerson are big for confidence. If Haven can get into October with a winning record, they could have another strong season.

Marion Warriors

Coach: Shaun Craft, sixth season (17-29)

Classification: 1A

District: 6

2022: 6-4

Postseason: Beat Salina Sacred Heart 38-14; lost Wabaunsee 22-14.

Best postseason finish: Runner-up, 1994

Top returning players: Jack Lanning, sr., QB/LB; Trevor Schafers, sr., RB/LB; Jonathan Frese, sr., WR/FS; Caleb Darrow, sr., WR/LB; Cole Smith, sr., OL/DL; Luke Watkins, jr., OL/DL; Brian Nguyen, jr., OL/LB

Key game: Oct. 20 vs. Sedgwick. Marion plays five of its first seven games on the road, including 5 of 6 before this game. Last year, Sedgwick caught fire in October on its way to a district title and playoff win. Marion also won a playoff game, but the sting of the 35-32 loss to Sedgwick, knowing the Warriors were close to a district title, likely stung. This should be a good one, again for the district title. 

Outlook: Marion continues to build something and should improve on last year’s record. Lanning is an elite quarterback and he returns three high-caliber weapons in Schafers, Frese and Darrow. With three linemen also returning, Marion could pile up some points. The defense is solid and experienced too. The September schedule will prepare Marion for the rest of the season, and if Marion can find a way to beat Inman and/or Trinity Catholic, it will set the tone for the rest of what would be another strong season, with maybe a longer November.

Peabody-Burns Warriors

Coach: Eric Dutton, first season

Classification: Six player

District: 1

2022: 6-4

Postseason: Beat Chase 66-21; lost to Tescott 40-12.

Best postseason finish: State runner-up, 1977

Top returning players: Chris Spencer, jr., RB/TE; Andrew Reynolds, jr., OL/DL; Cade Goessen, jr., RB; Joseph Aydelott, so., OL/DL.

Key game: Sept. 8 vs. Chetopa. With such a young team, Peabody-Burns needs to experience an early. Chetopa was winless last year, so this is great chance to get not just a win but also a district win.

Outlook: Peabody-Burns had a solid season that included a playoff win. And the good news, the Warriors return four starters. But that’s about it from an experience standpoint. Dutton listed nothing else but freshmen. It’s a good, deep class with seven players, which might be more freshmen than some 1A schools have playing football. But still, there will inevitably be growing pains. But if the Warriors can get a home playoff game again, and even a postseason win, that could be a massive boost for the future of this young program, which doesn’t have a senior listed.