The Colo-Nesco football team is hoping superior depth results in the return to the playoffs in 2014.
After making the playoffs in their first season of 8-man ball two years ago, the Royals stumbled through a 2-7 campaign in 2013. But more experience, combined with better numbers, has head coach Josh Nessa optimistic about the upcoming season.
"Our main goal is to return to the playoffs and to improve on our fundamentals," Nessa said. "We have been spending a lot more time on tackling drills and blocking."
Colo-Nesco returns 11 letterwinners from last year’s team. Returning starters will be: junior linebacker Dacian Wilson, junior split end Christian Reischauer, senior tailback/tight end/linebacker Clayton Bryan, senior split end/defensive back Noah Gibbons, junior tailback/linebacker Grant Tiarks, senior offensive lineman Peyton Larson, senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Isaiah Texeira and junior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Michael Starling.
"Our depth chart really excites me," Nessa said. "Most of our positions are still up in the air, and in 8-man football that is a very good problem to have. We have quite a bit of depth at running back, quarterback, the offensive ends and linebacker. Our kids have been working hard in the weight room and I believe they are quite versatile, so we will be able to put a variety of athletes at those positions. We have a few minor injuries, but if those mend well we should have some depth at many positions."
On offense Colo-Nesco will be operating out of multiple formations. Nessa said the majority of those formations will be out of twins and a double-tight end wildcat offense.
At quarterback Colo-Nesco will have junior Brady Stoeffler and Wilson competing for time.
Stoeffler completed 1 of 6 passes for 17 yards and he ran for 22 yards and one score last season. Wilson was 1 of 2 passing for 10 yards a year ago.
At tailback Nessa has an abundance of options. He plans on using Bryan, Gibbons, Reischauer, Tiarks and sophomore Garret Tiarks.
Grant Tiarks ran for 178 yards, Garret piled up 95 and Bryan finished with 69 a year ago.
At the end positions Colo-Nesco will have Bryan, Gibbons, Reischauer, both Tiarks boys and junior Tanner Clatt.
Bryan is the top returning receiver on the team with four catches for 42 yards a year ago. Reischauer made two grabs for 23 yards, Grant Tiarks had one 23-yard reception and Clatt made one catch for 17 yards.
On the line Colo-Nesco will have Texeira, Starling and seniors Mark Frohwein, Jacob Deal and Dustin Curran competing for time.
"The offensive line will need to make improvements from last year," Nessa said. "Luckily we have almost our entire line returning plus we gained one. They will be a much more experienced group than last year. If they improve as much as I think they can, we will be better this year."
On defense Colo-Nesco will run an odd front with either a 3-4-1 or a 3-3-2.
On the defensive line for the Royals will be the same group on the offensive front in Texeira, Frohwein, Deal, Curran and Starling. Last year Texeira made 32 tackles, Starling had 28 plus four sacks and Curran tallied 16 tackles and three sacks.
At linebacker the Royals will have Wilson and Bryan on the inside and Grant Tiarks, Garret Tiarks, Reischauer and Clatt on the outside.
Wilson and Bryan were the two leading tacklers for Colo-Nesco last year with 57 and 56 stops respectively. Grant Tiarks made 52 tackles a year ago, Garret finished with 20 and Reischauer made eight.
The Royal secondary will be manned by Gibbons, Stoeffler and Reischauer, depending on the formation. Gibbons had 17 tackles and three interceptions and Stoeffler made five stops last season.
Reischauer and Clatt will handle the kicking and punting duties for Colo-Nesco.
The Royals will be making the move from 8-man District 6 to District 5 this season. Joining Colo-Nesco in the district will be Don Bosco, Dunkerton, English Valleys, Grandview Park Baptist, HLV, Meskwaki and Tri-County.
"This is an interesting group of teams that I am not very familiar with," Nessa said. "Some really strong teams, and some teams I think could really improve from last year and fight for a playoff spot."
Nessa said he expects the district championship to be decided between Don Bosco and HLV.
The season starts for Colo-Nesco Aug. 29 when the Royals host Melcher-Dallas in Colo. The game will start at 7 p.m.