Doniphan West Young, Still Confident

Published 08/20 2013 10:52PM

Updated 08/20 2013 10:59PM

(HIGHLAND, Kan.) Bigger numbers and bigger expectations had Doniphan West out and energized before the sunrise on day one of Kansas two-a-days.

"In past years, we haven't even had enough for a scout team for our varsity to practice against, so yeah, it's helping out," senior running back Luke Rush said.

"They're excited. They've been telling me for two weeks they're ready to get started," head coach Nick Fuemmeler said. "It's easy to coach."

The Mustangs aim to make Fuemmeler's third year at the helm feel more like his first. They made the playoffs that season with just 19 players on the roster before dipping to a 2-7 record in 2012.

Recapturing that magic will be tough with a lot of inexperience filling out the roster again this year. Much of that comes on the offensive line where a trio of three-year starters has to be replaced.

"Early, it might be tough for them," Rush said. "Some of them have never really started before, but I think they'll be already."

"We've got to get that experience built up in our younger guys," senior tight end Ian Bollinger added. "Those smaller guys that are playing the line to replace those big guys, we've got to give them a big heart instead."

The backfield battle is still up in the air with five running backs in the mix, four of which being sophomores. That's on top of a quarterback competition between junior Tynan Bollinger and sophomore Ian Spiker.

But Fuemmeler believes fortifying the ground attack will be critical.

"We always want to be run-oriented," he said. "We were forced into a situation where we had to throw the ball too much last year. We've got to get our ground game going and be able to move the ball consistently and throw the ball when we want to instead of when we have to."

If the Mustangs can push past their inevitable learning curve, then how well the fresh blood responds to the example of the few seniors could make or break the year.

"We need to set a foundation for this program," Rush said. "Looking around at these guys, I think we can do it."

Doniphan West opens the season on Sept. 6th hosting Riverside.

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