STAPLETON, Neb. (KNOP) - McPherson County and Stapleton schools have had a football co-op for the past two seasons. However, this season, the two schools have created a co-op across all sports, and will now be known as the Sandhills Valley Mavericks.
For the first year of the Sandhills Valley co-op, the Mavericks aim to win with a young roster (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
On the offense, the team returns its starting quarterback, running back, and two receivers from last year, but, on defense, the team has made some changes.
"We've got a really strong quarterback and some really good receivers, and then we also have a heck of a running back. So, offensively, we're going to be good. We've got a different defensive coordinator this year so we'll change on defense. I think all around we're going to be a pretty good team," head coach Luke Connell said.
According to Connell, there is only one senior on the roster, and only two or three sophomores, so the team will be comprised of mostly juniors and freshmen.
"We've got a good group of freshmen coming up, we've got to get them integrated with the team. We've got to get the freshmen up to speed with the juniors, and come together as a team," Connell said.
"I think we're going to be really explosive really quick we have a lot of new freshman come up and they're also quick and really athletic," said junior quarterback Conner Phillips.
One of the juniors who is expected to be a leader on the offense is tight end, and two-time all-district receiver Will Sisson.
"He's really sneaky but he's really quick he had 400 my yard so he's one of my go-to receivers," Phillips said of Sisson.
"It was kind of slow at first, but as the year kept going, coach figured where to put me best and it just took off from there. It was amazing, and at the end of the year, kind of looking back like 'woah I just did that,'" Sisson said of being named to the first team all-district last season.
To build off that, Sisson said, "I'm just hoping to keep a good peaceful mindset and hoping that everything goes according to plan."
The Mavericks open their season against Cody-Kilgore, whom they lost to 49-12 last season. Connell said the team can expect a physical game against the Cowboys.
"They're a team that's going to be a top five team probably, maybe even better, and so we've got to master physicality and try to out run them at times," Connell said.
Sisson hopes to get revenge on the Cowboys this season with a win of their own.
"They came in last year and embarrassed us, we're just hoping to come back and do the same thing to them," Sisson said.
Sandhills Valley 2019 Schedule
Aug. 30: @Cody-Kilgore
Sep. 6: v Hyannis
Sep. 13: v Arthur County
Sep. 27: @Eustis-Farnam
Oct. 3: v Sumner-Eddyville-Miller
Oct. 11: @Sioux County
Oct. 18: @Maywood-Hayes Center
Oct. 25: v Wilcox-Hildreth