Tim Hester and the Strafford Indians aren’t used to losing and they’re hoping to at least turn around last year’s 5-6 record. But if they’re to do so, it’ll come from a bulk of youngsters.
Head Coach: Tim Hester (18th year)
2015 Record: 5-6 (lost to MV-BT/Liberty in district semifinals)
Players to Watch: Kensen White (Jr QB), Danny Novakovich (Sr RB), Dylan Hester (So WR), Trayson Lawler (So LB), Andrew Woodring (Jr FS), Drew Stoll (Jr WR)
The Indians feature three times as many underclassmen (45) as upperclassmen (15). While inexperience is a major factor, Hester believes these youngsters picked up a lot from the previous classes.
“They learned leadership from the guys that graduated,” said Hester. “They know what it takes to win. They’re just inexperienced right now.”
Junior Kensen White enters his first year at quarterback and has some incredibly big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of Indians greats Jacob Wade and Chanler Collins.
“He’s seen what they’ve done,” said Hester. “He knows the system. He’s got a challenge this year with a young team.”
Hester praised his signal caller’s deception. White is very good at hiding the ball on read plays.
“He sticks it in the running back’s gut and it disappears. He’s also a good at play action.”
White will have plenty of help in the offense. Danny Novakovich steps into the starting running back role, replacing 1,375 yard rusher Jacob Eden from a year ago.
“We went into a pistol for Danny. He’s more of a downhill runner. We’re excited for him. I think he’s going to be our primary running back this year.”
And when White goes to the air he’ll have a couple of talented young targets; sophomore Dylan Hester (younger brother of Dallas) and junior Drew Stoll.
“(Dylan has) good hands, good footwork, good route-running; I’m looking for him to step up this year.”
Defensively, Hester describes his team as average with three sophomores starting at linebacker. He says the secondary will be the strength of the defensive unit with Hester (CB), Stoll (FS) and junior Andrew Woodring (SS).
Fair Grove is the clear-cut favorite in the Mid-Lakes, but beyond that Hester believes his young group can certainly compete with anyone in the league every Friday night.
“Every game’s an opportunity to win a game. Fair Grove is leading the way and then it’s anybody.”
The 2016 season kicks off Fri. Aug. 19 when Strafford hosts non-conference Springfield Catholic.