Five things to watch for on the gridiron to start 2018:
- Among the teams auditioning new varsity quarterbacks, will Osceola’s brute-force rushing attack continue to dominate or skip a beat with a new quarterback (junior Devan Wells) and losing four of its top five rushers to graduation? Last year, the Kowboys returned all of its starters to the defensive line, a group Coach Doug Nichols would call “very special” by the end of the year. This year, it’s the offensive line that comes back intact, which should help churn those rushing yards. With Wells, with the offense be able to “throw it when we want to” as Nichols hopes?
- Liberty, with new coach Bryan Pennington, showed flashes of high-octane offense in a 28-14 spring game win over Gateway. Can the Chargers keep it up and be a force in District 7A-5?
- Harmony quarterback Nate Herstich got off to a so-so junior year before turning into county Offensive Player of the Year form, ending up with the second-most (2,239) yards and the most touchdowns (30) in a season in county history. What will he do to the record books as a senior?
Will the Tohopekaliga Tigers, the first team to debut since Liberty did it in 2007, have a good start like the Chargers did that year, winning its first two games, or face common first-year struggles?
- The county’s two playoff teams (Osceola, Gateway) came from District 8A-7. Will there be a county school (Or two? Three?) come out of 7A-5, namely Harmony, St. Cloud or, for the first time in the playoffs, Liberty?