Veritas Christian’s football team is coming off its most successful season in the school’s history, but you wouldn’t know in talking to coach Doug Bennett.
Bennett, who led the Eagles to an undefeated season and the Kansas Christian Athletic Association state championship last year, enters this season with the same mind-set as his previous 10 seasons as coach.
“It’s a great memory, but they don’t give us any points for last season,” Bennett said.
After losing 11 of 16 starters, including first-team all-state running back Nate Scott and first-team all-state receivers Ethan Kay and Ethan Scott, Bennett said Veritas would need to rely less on big plays and more on driving the ball down the field.
“Last year we had such a potent offense and such speed that ... we probably averaged three or four plays a drive and we were in the end zone just because we had some big playmakers,” Bennett said.
That’s not to say the Eagles don’t have a few big playmakers returning — emphasis on “big.”
Bennett said his team’s strengths would be size and power, both on the front line and in the backfield. Right guard Bryce Boland, a junior, is 6-foot-3, 241 pounds, and received all-state honorable mention for his work on the defensive line last year. Newcomer Chris Bolinger is 6-2, 229 at left guard. They intend to protect two other big-time guys — seniors Nick Bennett, a second-team all-state quarterback and coach Bennett’s son, running back Preston Randall, who collected honorable mention all-state linebacker accolades last year. Both are around 6-1, 190.
“I think there is a lot of excitement for this senior class. They’ve proven that they can have success with last year’s great class. I don’t think they necessarily feel pressure as much as they are just excited to go out and prove themselves and what they’re capable of doing.”
While Bennett is approaching Friday’s season-opening matchup against non-conference foe Steelville the same as any other during his tenure, there is at least one difference — it will be the last season opener in which he will coach his son.
“I’m trying to savor every moment. I was going into this week realizing there was just nine weeks plus the postseason left to be that close to him on the football field,” Bennett said.
When asked if another championship was too much to ask for after losing so much talent, Bennett said that was the goal, but there’s plenty of work left.
“The schedule is a little tougher this year ... our non-league opponents. That should be a lot of fun for these guys to find out how good we might be able to be, but try not to put too much focus on winning another state championship, although it’s definitely on our mind,” Bennett said.
“I think we have a lot of things we have to get better at to even have a chance to repeat as state champion.”
Veritas will travel to Steeleville (Mo.) to take on the Cardinals at 7 p.m. Friday.