It happens to every football team around the nation. At one time or another, a team loses a large graduating class and is faced with the challenge of some inexperienced players hoping to continue to build the strong foundation that had been established. That’s exactly where the Ste. Genevieve Dragons are, heading into the 2020 season.
An 8-4 record and a second-place district finish had the Dragons in the spotlight last season. But the number of seniors who played a large role in that success was substantial. Twenty-two letter-winners depart, something that head coach Ken Weik acknowledges, but doesn’t dwell upon. “Our expectations are the same every year…get to the district championship, win our conference, and play hard and compete with everyone we play,” the head coach stated firmly. “This is a young group, but their work ethic is high, and their expectations are high. Getting game experience is going to be our work in progress, but we’ll get more every week, right?”
Without a doubt. The schedule waits for no one, so the eight returning letter-winners will shoulder the brunt of the leadership. Anthony Nash (12), Zach Boyer (11), Payton Matthews (12), Bret Bieser (12), Klayton Squires (11), Zach Burr (12), Hunter Lorance (12), and Dale Propst (11) return, and Weik admits each will play a critical role. “All of our returning players will be key to us this season,” he said. “Having so many seniors play last year, we do not have a lot of experience coming back, so each one of these guys returning with experience will be playing big roles. Bieser played both offense and defense last year, so we expect big things from him this season. He’s working hard this off-season and has gotten bigger and stronger. Matthews and Squires will both be expected to help in big ways on offense. Boyer will be a big part of our offense as well, either in the backfield or split out wide. We lost a lot of linemen to graduation so Burr, Lorance, and Propst are needing to step up big and help us develop a line on both sides of the ball. All three have been leaders in the weight room, and we expect them to continue those roles as we begin the season.”
Weik, entering his sixth season with the Dragons, says his underclassmen provide a lot of hope for years to come. “We have a big group of young players, so our future looks good,” he noted. “Some of those guys have a real good shot at being three-year starters, but it wouldn’t be fair to try to pick which ones those will be by listing them here. All of these guys realize the opportunity is there for them. They just need to decide if they are willing to do what it takes to play at that level.”
Coach Weik knows that last season is in the past, but some huge gains were made that must be maintained. “It is very important,” he admitted. “Playing well and having big games at the end of a season carries over into the off season, and we had that last year, so we are excited to get going this year.”
The Friday Night lights will burn bright beginning August 28 as the new look Dragons host the Festus Tigers at 7:00 p.m. The rest of the schedule can be found here: Ste. Gen Football Schedule 2020