The Waverly and Seward football teams spent the first week of preseason practices looking inward, installing offensive and defensive schemes and building the physical stamina to get through a long season.
As they begin peeking ahead in the coming days toward the season opener against each other on Aug. 24 at Concordia University in Seward, the Vikings and Bluejays will see similar senior-dominated teams ready to make their mark this season and a pair of senior quarterbacks who are among the elite signal-callers in Class B.
Seward’s Joseph Krause is a three-year starter who threw for 2,206 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, bringing the 6-foot, 185-pounder’s career totals as a Bluejay to 3,875 and 34 TDs.
While Krause is a threat through the air, Rhett Jordon does his damage on the ground in Waverly’s power-running attack. The 5-11, 170-pounder rushed for 778 yards and 12 TDs a year ago and passed for another 735 and 10 scores in leading the Vikings to a 6-4 record and a berth in the Class B playoffs.
They’ve each earned the respect of the opposing coach.
“Jordon’s a tough matchup,” said Seward coach Jamie Opfer, whose team returns 15 starters (eight on offense, seven on defense) from last season’s 4-5 squad. “The power run game they use is tough to stop, and he’s a tough physical runner who also has the ability to stretch the defense with his speed. A couple times last year, we made him bounce outside and he was tough to run down.”
Waverly coach Tim Williams calls Krause “a talented young man who can do a lot of things.
“He can hurt you with his feet as well as his arm,” the Viking coach added. “We really have to be prepared in the secondary and up front that we’re staying fundamentally sound and keeping him contained.”
Krause may be more dangerous throwing on the run than he is standing in the pocket. He has an array of experienced receivers he can throw to such as senior Carson Core (36 catches, 763 yards, six TDs last season), 6-3 senior Brett Meyer (21 receptions, 427 yards, six TDs) and 6-3 junior Ben Myers (24 catches, 419 yards, four TDs).
The Bluejays have also added senior Centennial transfer Reece Foreman, who had 47 pass receptions for 652 yards and nine TDs a year ago on the Broncos’ Class C-2 state runner-up team. Foreman also will be a factor defensively after intercepting four passes and registering 49 tackles last season.
“It’s easier for me to see downfield when I’m outside the pocket because I don’t have the big linemen blocking my view,” Krause said. “When I get outside the pocket, my receivers are really good at improvising. They’ll find an opening no matter where I’m at. I just need to put the ball there.”
Jordon is one of nine starters back offensively for the Vikings. Senior running back Kaleb Canoyer rushed for 708 yards last season, wide receivers Jay Adams (34 receptions for 542 yards, seven TDs), Nolan Brown and Trent Weatherwax as well as tight end Alex Murray all have experience, and three senior starters — Logan Schuelke (6-2, 230), Cade McKibben (5-10, 225) and Sam Schneider (6-2, 205) — are back on the offensive line.
Schuelke and senior outside linebacker Thatcher Kozal lead seven returning starters on defense for Waverly.
“We’re going to try to pound it this year (offensively),” said Jordon, who may see some time at cornerback this season. “We’ve got a strong offensive line and a lot of weapons in the skilled positions. We’ve got to find ways to use them all.”