RAYMOND – Second-year Coach Wade Houchin is looking forward to what his team can accomplish this fall.
The Raymond Central Mustangs finished 2-7 in Houchin’s first season on the sideline, but there is reason for optimism heading into 2019.
More kids out for the sport is a good start.
“We are looking at anywhere between 30 and 35 kids out. Is that where we want to be? No, but it is more than we had last year,” said Houchin.
A renewed commitment to offseason training is another step in the right direction.
“Weight room attendance has been great and we are starting to see progress in the guys on and off the field,” said Houchin.
Last season, Houchin’s first as a head coach, got off to 2-2 start after a pair of wins over Louisville (14-10) and Nebraska City (30-28) in weeks three and four.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, their season ended with five consecutive losses by a combined score of 234-35.
“Our district was really tough. We knew the back half of our schedule was going to be a challenge and it was,” Houchin stated.
An emphasis on improving an offense that averaged just over 12 points a game in 2018 is at the top of the priority list heading into the fall campaign.
The Mustangs spread option offense is complex and was turned over to a freshman in week four.
Conner Kreikemeier started at quarterback in week four and started the final six games during his freshman season.
“I really didn’t want to play him at quarterback, but we had to. He was playing anyway and we believed that with his athleticism he gave us the best chance to win.
Kreikemeier, playing behind an inexperienced line, took his lumps but persevered against some of the state’s top C-1 teams.
“We learned a lot about Conner last season. He showed tremendous toughness and resiliency against some really good competition and he will be better for it this year,” Houchin said.
The offense should be improved with better play up front.
Junior Michael Potter (185), junior Christian Schweitzer (220), senior Ryan Jelinek (195) and junior Nolan Benes (220) figure to bolster the offensive line in 2019.
They will be blocking for feature back Mikey McCoy.
McCoy is undersized at 150 pounds, but he makes up for it with his athleticism and versatility.
“Mikey is going to be a playmaker for us. He is a pretty dynamic guy who works really hard every day at practice,” Houchin said.
In addition to scoring more points, an emphasis on slowing down opposing offenses is also at the top of Houchin’s list.
The Mustangs allowed more than 36 points a game in 2018, but figure to be better on that side of the ball this fall with the return of six starters.
Kreikemeier, McCoy and sophomore Travis Nelson (130) return the secondary intact.
Schweitzer will bolster the defensive line after starting last season as a sophomore.
Potter, senior Brandon Carraway (185) and senior Ethan Boyd (175) will all play linebacker in 2019.
The 2019 schedule mirrors last year’s version.
The first half of the schedule features a number of winnable games.
The season will open with a home game against Douglas County West on Aug. 30.
The first five opponents on the 2019 Mustang schedule combined to finish with a record of 17-28 and none made the playoffs.
Games against Class C-1 semifinalists Wahoo and Bishop Neumann await the Mustangs on the back half of the schedule.
“I think winning four or five games is really realistic for us. We are just trying to take the next step as a program,” Houchin stated.