Senior staff writer
SOUTHPORT (6A, 8-3) – First-year coach/11-year assistant Brandon Winters succeeds Bill Peebles (62-56), now at Lawrence Central … all-time leading Cards’ quarterback Luke Johnston (Marian) graduated … Peebles left plenty of talent behind … offense features running back Andrew Mappes (5.4 yards per carry, 5.3 yards per catch, eight TDs) with speed and hard-running Micah Walker … Johnston’s successor will be former junior varsity starter Scott Rippy or soph Ed Schott from unbeaten freshman team … they can throw to state record receiver Blake Evans (22 TDs, 1,607 all-purpose yards) and Matt Johnston (11.2 yards per catch) … O-line leaders are Josh Campbell and CJ Wood … leading tacklers Jalen Williams (143 tackles), Sergiey Slaughter (82), Hunter Hightower (67), Sam Rust (56) and Keaton Moore (62) add up to great defense … not much drop-off, if any.
“Our first three games (Roncalli, Westfield and Perry Meridian) will tell us what kind of team we have and how tough we are. I want a team that is fundamentally sound and doesn’t give up easy plays either way.
“The energy is good and they have fun playing together. We are very experienced on defense. We hope to be strong up front on offense; our young guys are getting a lot of reps. We have made some subtle adjustments on offense and defense. We have a combination in the backfield that can be very productive. We have a lot of competitive kids.”
– Coach Brandon Winters