Royals ready for second year of 8-man ball
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Colo-Nesco football program in 2013 as the Royals have the momentum from last year’s state playoff run, and several young players will get the opportunity to prove themselves.
Last year was Colo-Nesco’s inaugural season in 8-man football, and after a shaky start, the Royals ended up adjusting nicely, finishing 6-4 overall and 5-2 in 8-man District 6. This season they will have a much better grasp on the 8-man game, as well as their offensive and defensive schemes, according to head coach Josh Nessa, who took over the program last season.
"We had to make quite a few adjustments last year," Nessa said. "We totally redid our offensive playbook and really our defensive playbook as well. We will have some slight changes this year, but for the most part we’re going to run a very similar type of scheme, both offensively and defensively."
One thing the Royals won’t have is experience. Colo-Nesco lost 10 senior starters from a year ago, including dominant quarterback Brandyn Niemeyer and tailback/linebacker Adam Lytle.
Niemeyer ran for 2,169 yards and 34 touchdowns and he also threw for 516 yards and seven touchdowns. On defense, he also led the team with 133 tackles.
Lytle ran for 1,118 yards and 22 touchdowns. He came through with 119 tackles on defense.
"We don’t have many returning starters, maybe two or three on each side of the ball, so we’re going to have a lot of places to fill," Nessa said. "We’re probably going to have to spread it out a lot more this year, have a more diverse offense and not just focus on our two best athletes. I think that is going to be a really good thing because I told them at practice, we’re not going to know who’s starting until week zero. So they’re all really excited and pushing for the positions they want to fill."
On offense, Colo-Nesco will continue to run mainly out of the shotgun after that approach helped the team average 51.5 points and 387.6 yards a year ago. The Royals will operate out of spread and pistol formations, with a tight end set also thrown in.
Senior Taylor Hill will take over at quarterback after spending most of his time at receiver a year ago. Hill did spend some minutes under center each of the past two seasons, completing nine passes for 95 yards and running for 127 yards a year ago.
Junior Clayton Bryan will move in at tailback. Sophomore Christian Reischauer – who transferred from Webster City last year after football – junior Noah Gibbons and senior Evan Webb – also a transfer – will vie for time in the backfield.
Reischauer, Gibbons and Webb will all compete for time in the slot. Sophomore Brady Stoeffler will see time at split end.
Seniors Casey Angell and Zach Jamison spent time at split end last year and this year they will move to tight end to help out with their blocking.
Senior Alex Griffin caught 10 passes for 145 yards last year, but this year Nessa will take advantage of his size and blocking skills by moving him to offensive guard.
"He is our best blocker," Nessa said.
Sophomore Michael Starling will fill in at the other guard spot and junior Peyton Larson will man the center position to fill out the rest of the line.
On defense Colo-Nesco will continue to run a 3-3. The Royals allowed 367 yards and 41 points per game last year.
Griffin is the top returning tackler on the team. He played several different positions last year, amassing 43 stops, seven tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries and Nessa plans on having him at mainly as the MIKE linebacker this year.
Bryan and sophomore Grant Tiarks are the leading candidates to fill in the two outside linebacker spots. Bryan made 20 tackles a year ago.
In the defensive backfield the Royals return Hill, and Gibbons and Webb will occupy the other two spots. Hill made 37 tackles and two interceptions last year and Gibbons totaled 18 tackles.
Along the defensive front, Colo-Nesco returns Angell at end. He made 20 tackles a year ago.
Junior Dustin Curran will take over at the other end spot and Starling and Isaiah Texiera will each get a shot at manning the spot in the middle.
Nessa said his special teams were unsettled as of press time. He said Reischauer looked good kicking the ball at times, but the Royal coach has yet to settle in on a kicker or punter.
In eight-man District 6, Nessa said he expects Adair Casey and defending district champion Murray to be the top teams, with the Royals aiming to take the other playoff spot out of the district.
"Murray loses quite a bit, but they had a pretty talented young group behind them with (1,000-yard rusher) Seth Nerness back," Nessa said. "Adair Casey is going to be real physical and I think they might have an advantage over Murray. We’re hoping to be right on their heels, like last year."
Colo-Nesco gets an early start to the season again with a week zero game against Melcher-Dallas this Friday in Melcher at 7 p.m. The Royals dropped last year’s opener to the Saints, but they avenged that setback in the playoffs.
"They are going to be very similar to us," They lost over 10 kids as well, and like us, they don’t have a big senior class. I think we have a good chance of being competitive with them."
The Royals will really find out what they’re made of the next week when they host Adair-Casey. Colo-Nesco travels to Northeast Hamilton on Sept. 6, hosts Ankeny Christian Academy and East Union the following two weeks and goes to Lamoni on Sept. 27.
In October the Royals host Mormon-Trail on the fourth, travel to Murray on the 11th and finish up at home versus Grandview Park Baptist on the 18th.