It’s an exciting time for Cimarron High School’s football team right now, head coach Greg Koenig said.
The team had a great offseason, and not just during summer, he said.
“Our kids worked really hard in the strength and conditioning classes during the school year,” Koenig said. “We had a really good track season, we feel like we're a lot faster. Summer we had great great participation.”
Prior to last season, the coaches had tried to create a fitness base for the players. This year, they took the next step.
“This year we were able to add a whole bunch of speed components to it, so we just feel like we're in a great place as far as offseason preparation, and that our kids are bigger, faster and stronger,” Koenig said.
The additions in terms of strength and speed have been confidence-building for the team, Koenig said. The same could be said for coaching continuity from last season to this one.
“This is the first time for Cimarron kids that they've had the same system for back-to-back years in five or six, seven years maybe,” Koenig said. “It was just a revolving door with the coaching situation so our kids feel pretty secure. They're running the same stuff on offense and defense that they did last year, so we just feel like we're where we're supposed to be in building the program.”
The Bluejays finished last season 6-0 in Hi-Plains League play, and 7-3 overall.
Most of the players that saw time for the Bluejays last season are back, including senior quarterback Dylan Harrison. A guard and a tackle had to be replaced, Koenig said, but that was about it in terms of replacements offensively. The backfield is also extremely deep, with three running backs, a fullback and two wings, the later of which there is a lot of competition for Koenig said.
But the Bluejays aren’t perfect.
Koenig pointed out they lack a little size up front defensively compared to last year and the linebackers are the biggest concern, if only because they’re extremely inexperienced there.
"We just have to make sure that the guys that are there feel confident in their abilities, and coaching we have to make sure that we teach them the right things and get 'em to play downhill and just turn 'em loose to go make tackles,” Koenig said. “We have good athletes there, they just don't have the same kind of experience. When you graduate Josh Seabolt, who (was an) all-state linebacker and led the Shrine Bowl in tackles, that's a pretty big gap to fill.”
Additionally, the team has been focusing on increasing its pace of play, Koenig said.
Part of that has been because of how last year’s season ended, with a 47-22 loss to Hoisington in the Bi-District round of last year’s state playoffs.
"When we lost in the playoffs against Hoisington it was really evident that our speed was lacking, so that was a major offseason focus,” Koenig said.
The team also continues to work on ball-security as it prepares for what Koenig said should be to very competitive Hi-Plains League season.
"We had way too many turnovers last year and not enough takeaways on defense. So that turnover margin is going to be a focus for us,” Koenig said.