Warsaw football was winless two seasons ago, but in Ryan Boyer’s first season as head coach last year the Wildcats posted a 5-6 overall record that ended in a second round district loss to eventual Class 2 state champion Lamar.
Things have progressed well heading into Boyer’s second season.
“It was nice this second year having the kids familiar with our system and us familiar with them,” Boyer said. “A lot of those guys that stepped up for us last year a sophomores and juniors, we get all of those guys back. They are healthy, bigger, faster and stronger.”
The head of that group is senior quarterback and three-sport star Matt Luebbert. Luebbert threw for 1,049 yards and eight touchdowns to go with 506 yards and five more touchdowns on the ground last season.
“Matt is a great kid and a great athlete. He is a three-sport athlete that really stands out. He is a high-character kid. He is very intelligent in the classroom,” Boyer said. “He does everything right. He leads by example. We never have to worry about him being on time. He is the first to show and last to go. He is a fun kid to coach. There is not a lot he can’t do. Last season he got better every week as his confidence grew. He picked up our system pretty quick (last season). There are things he can bring to the table and things he can do on the field the average Joe just can’t.”
Senior Kieon Davis will be the feature back in the running game after splitting carries with the graduated Keegan Glenn last season. Davis had 803 yards rushing on 114 carries for a team-high 10 touchdowns last season. He got better as the season went, as Davis had 14 carries for 27 yards (1.93 yards per carry) through three games and then 88 carries for 699 yards (7.9 yards per carry) in the final eight games.
“He (Davis) was learning how we wanted him to run,” Boyer said. “He was trying to bounce everything outside (early). Once he figured out north and south and how our zone blocking scheme works, he really excelled.”
Warsaw will have experience and depth on the offensive line led by all-region selection Jake Luebbert, who is the twin brother of quarterback Matt Luebbert. Colby Stephens will also be a key cog on the offensive line in his sophomore season after battling injury last year.
“One thing we noticed the most in our June camp was the communication aspect on both sides of the ball. They have confidence in what we are doing and know our system a little bit better, so their communication has really improved,” Boyer said.
The defense will be keyed by Zach Chapman who will shift between safety and linebacker. Mat Couzens and Colby Schwartz will also be in the middle of the defense at linebacker.
Warsaw left the Tri-County conference to join the newly formed Ozark Mountain Conference with Buffalo, El Dorado Springs, Cole Camp, Butler and Sherwood.
“We are excited about it. You aren’t as familiar with all of the (teams). It is new and fresh. It is something the kids are excited about,” Boyer said.
Warsaw will host a jamboree on Aug. 17 with Buffalo, Osage and Skyline.
After that, Boyer and his Wildcats will take things one week at a time.
“We really stress going 1-0 for the week. We feel like with these guys that they have put in the time and they have the talent and they could accomplish some big things, so we do have some very big expectations,” Boyer said.
That opening week will be on Aug. 24 at home against Midway.