The Melcher-Dallas football team will open the 2012 football season ranked second in eight man football. The Saints will face an early test when they open at Colo-Nesco tonight (Friday, August 17). The Royals played in Class A last season, but dropped to eight man this season. Colo-Nesco was 1-8 in 2011.
Melcher-Dallas went 9-1 last season and they return all but three players. Gone are linemen Deven Breese and Eric Brown and quarterback Trent Kennedy. Breese suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the season. Brown was a part time starter on the offensive line.
The Saints will have to find a replacement for Kennedy. He threw for 17 touchdowns and ran for another nine last season. If the Saints can find a capable replacement for Kennedy, they will be hard to beat.
M-D returns 11 seniors and seven sophomores off of last year’s team. Seniors returning include all-state lineman Ross Dawson, Kenneth Wadle (WR-DB), Trent Flesher (RB-LB), Dalton Roland (QB-DB), Cody Alexander (TE-DB), Tory Schneider (OL-DL), Daniel Clark (OL-DL), Brad Alexander (OL-DL), Nick Williams (OL-DL), Austin Starckovich and Jered Johnston.
Sophomores returning are Jacob Hoch (FB-LB), Chase Wetterling (WR-DB), Brock Breese (OL-DL), Ty Schneider (OL-DL), Kale Chritchlow (OL-LB), Alex Mitchell and Chris Davis.
Flesher was an integral part of last season’s offensive. He ran for 1,476 yards, while scoring 18 touchdowns. Wadle kept the opponent’s defense honest because he was always a threat to catch a pass. He was one of the top receivers in the state last season with 60 receptions, for 874 yards and 17 touchdowns. Dawson led the team in tackles, with 118. He had 29 tackles for loss. Dawson also caught three touchdown passes as a guard eligible lineman. Jacob Hoch is back at fullback and the entire line returns.
The biggest question for the Saints is at quarterback. Senior Dalton Roland is set to pick up where Kennedy left off. M-D coach Ryan Conrad said that Roland throws the ball well. Roland proved last season that he could run with the ball when plays break down.
The schedule may prove more challenging this season for the Saints. Joining M-D in district five are Twin Cedars, Seymour, Moravia, Tri-County, Meskwaki, HLV, and Wayne. HLV dropped down from Class A, and Wayne dropped down from Class 1A. The Saints also have a late season non-district game against Lenox. The Tigers knocked off the Saints in the first round of the playoffs last fall.
“We will have some interesting games against Colo-Nesco, HLV, and Wayne,” stated coach Conrad. “Coming down from 11 man football, they will have some adjustments to make. We are excited to have the opportunity to play these schools.”
Conrad said his team is ready to go. “The boys look really good in practice. They are hungry and are working hard. We will approach the season with the attitude of “take one game at a time.” We expect to be able to compete with everyone on our schedule. Coach Jim Crozier has stressed to the boys to “never be satisfied”.
Conrad said that it is always an honor to be ranked highly, but that ranking was earned by last year’s team. Staying in the ranks will happen as long as the Saints do one thing, win.