Prep football previews: Eight Man-2 No. 4 Twin Loup trying to 'forget that last game'

Twin Loup has assigned senior Dylan Osborn the task of replacing Rowdy Oxford, pictured, at quarterback.

Twin Loup cruised through the first 10 games of the 2017 season undefeated — with an average margin of victory of 44.7 points — before losing 37-34 to Blue Hill in the state quarterfinals.

“I try to forget that last game,” coach Mike Kozeal said. “We have a lot of kids to replace this year, but we still have the potential to be good.”

The Wolves will have a new lineup after the departure of 10 seniors, including two-time All-Eight Man-2 running back Alex Horky, 2017 All-Eight Man-2 defensive back Spencer Keefe and 2016 All-Eight Man-2 kicker Hunter Kraus.

“Those kids were great leaders,” Kozeal said. “We have to take the things we learned from those guys and develop our own identity.”

Eight Man-2 No. 4 Twin Loup

Coach: Mike Kozeal, 21st season

Career record: 153-61

Championships: None

Returning starters: RB/LB Colby Coons (Jr.), RB/CB Cooper Coons (Jr.), C/DT Raif Ruppert (Jr.)

Key returning player: Junior Colby Coons, who leads the backfield platoon alongside his brother Cooper. Last season, Colby rushed for 224 yards on 37 attempts and scored three touchdowns in addition to making 89 tackles at linebacker.

“Colby is a tough, physical player,” Kozeal said. “He’s probably the one who will be the key to our success.”

Others to watch: QB/S Dylan Osborn (Sr.), FB/LB Quade Young (So.), G/DT Rope Bottorf (Jr.), G/DT Dillan Saner (Sr.), G/DT Ben Moore (Jr.), RB/S JD Meeks (Sr.), WR/S Jibril Harris (Jr.), FB/S Lathyn Collins (Jr.), WR/S Bryce Lamb (Jr.)

Key departure: Two-time All-Eight Man-2 running back Alex Horky will be missed the most. Horky’s production on offense will be difficult to replace, as he averaged 298.2 all-purpose yards and 4.7 touchdowns per game last season. Over his career, Horky amassed 5,073 rushing yards and 93 touchdowns, including 2,180 yards and 47 touchdowns in 2017. He was also the team’s leading tackler, making 145 at safety last year.

Breakout player: Sophomore FB/LB Quade Young. As a freshman, Young rushed for 58 yards on seven carries, scored one touchdown and made 36 tackles at linebacker before breaking his collarbone six games into the season. Despite limited experience, Young showed promise.

“Quade has a lot of potential,” Kozeal said. “He brings size and strength as an underclassman, and will have an impact on both sides of the ball.”

On offense: Expect hard-nosed, tough football from Twin Loup. Behind their big offensive line, featuring Raif Ruppert (6-foot, 235 pounds), Rope Bottorf (6-0, 300), Dillan Saner (6-3, 275), Ben Moore (6-2, 300) and transfer Hunter Teichmeier (6-0, 265), the Wolves will stick to what they know best: running the ball.

Leading the offense will be senior quarterback Dylan Osborn, who is taking over for three-year-starter Rowdy Oxford. Osborn will spearhead the offense from the I-formation, and will be joined by the Coons brothers in the backfield.

On defense: The Wolves will run a 3-3-2 and look to capitalize on turnovers and improve against the passing game.

“We’ll be good against the run,” Kozeal said. “But our biggest challenge will be slowing down the passing attack and spread.”

Twin Loup loses three of its five leading tacklers in Horky, Hunter Kraus and Spencer Keefe, but Colby and Cooper Coons will lead the defense at linebacker and cornerback, respectively.

Game to watch: The biggest challenge for Kozeal’s team comes Week 7 on the road against Clearwater-Orchard.

The Cyclones return seven starters on both offense and defense.

2018 schedule (with 2017 record)

Aug. 23, Anselmo-Merna (3-5)

x-Aug. 31, at Riverside (11-0)

x-Sept. 14, at Kenesaw (9-1)

x-Sept. 21, CWCE (8-2)

x-Sept. 28, Central Valley (3-6)

x-Oct. 5, at Clearwater-Orchard (6-3)

x-Oct. 11, at Stuart (3-6)

Oct. 18, St. Mary’s (1-7)

X — denotes playoff teams; District opponents in bold type

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