(HIAWATHA, Kan.) A lot of eyes have turned their attention to Hiawatha, Kan. over the last year mainly thanks to the Redhawks' resident Division I prospect.
"The process, especially over this last year, has gotten absolutely crazy," senior defensive lineman Peyton Newell said. "Just as far as the attention to a national level as well as in the community."
"We're starting to draw people that maybe weren't a part of that crowd or just people out of town who come to see if the kid's the real deal," head coach Chris Diller said.
Newell, the number two prospect in the state, has spent over a year courting suitors for his services as a college freshman next year. He recently narrowed his choices down to Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, and South Carolina.
He also anchors a front seven for Hiawatha that includes six seniors and sits at the ready to terrorize opposing offenses."My class has actually been the core the last two years, so I'm really excited about this year," Newell said.
"They've all been playing since they were sophomores, so I think the confidence comes from the fact that they've been there," Diller added.
For a Redhawks team that finished 8-3 a year ago, strong defense will be needed to back up some of the inexperience under center. After graduating three-year starter Brad Chilcoat, junior Ryker Smith and freshman Joseph Kunkel are battling for snaps
But Diller says the team expects to lean on their ground game."All three of our running backs are returning. We've got a little bit of inside run and a little bit of outside run, so it's nice to have those options."
"I feel like it can help more than anything," senior RB/LB Parker Hasenkamp said. "I'm just trying to help the underclassmen, talk them up, get their confidence up."
For Newell, it's one last season with his teammates away from the hype and clamor of recruiting trips. He plans to announce where he'll play collegiately next Friday at Hiawatha High School so that he can focus on his senior campaign, for which he has one goal.
"Definitely a state championship," he said. "Not letting any of the hype, any of the newspapers, anything like that get into our head. We've got to keep grinding and doing as well as we can."
Hiawatha opens the season Sept. 6th hosting Perry-Lecompton.