WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The Wichita Christian Stars head into 2017 with a lot of confidence, after a winning 2016 season.
"I think we will be definitely improved compared to last year," said third-year head coach Joshua Johnson. "Out of [our] returning lettermen I think we have seven all district performers. That, you know, is going to play a huge role for us coming into the fall season."
The Stars bring back plenty of playing experience heading into this year and they expect the offense to help carry the team.
"This upcoming year will probably be our most explosive offense that we've had," Johnson said. "Jackson Landes will be a four year starter for us, and then we've got Evan Findley at wide receiver, Nic Crittenden is our leading rusher coming back. Our center, Riley Pipes has been there, a three year starter for us. So we've got a lot of strong key pieces offensively."
On defense the Stars will need to grow up fast and rely on some younger players to step up and make an impact on that side of the ball.
"We lost three big seniors," Johnson said of graduates Josh Skipworth, Alex Wolf and Kraig Towry. "Two played a lot for us defensively you know, so from a physically standpoint we have to get stronger and tougher in the trenches, especially when we face teams that are going to run the Jay-Set or a Pro Set or going to run a tight offense. So it's kind of going to be wide open on the defensive side to kind of see who will take the lead for us."
With their non-district schedule, the Stars won't have any time to just ease into the season.
"We have a tough non district schedule," Johnson said. "I mean, these teams are coming to play week in and week out, year in and year out. So it doesn't get easier and as long as I'm here we're going to continue to schedule tough, tough opponents in the non-district season."
The Stars believe they have enough talent to be a top contender in their district, and they don't have to look far for a blueprint to state. Their crosstown rival Notre Dame has made it to the TAPPS state title game 2 years in a row.
"We want our district to be well-represented, and they have represented our district," Johnson said. "We have represented our district well too. So we know that's kind of where you need to be. And they have been in the state game the last two years and come up a little short. And we know that's kind of the measuring stick, so we are excited. This is probably going to be one of our better groups that we have had in the three years that we have been here as a staff."
The Stars open their season September 1st at Chillicothe.
2017 Wichita Christian football schedule
Sept. 1: at Chillicothe, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8: vs Paducah, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15: vs Gold-Burg, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23: vs Red Oak Ovilla Christian, 2 p.m. (Saturday) in Azle
Sept. 28: at Benjamin, 7:30 (Thursday)
Oct. 6: BYE
Oct. 14: at Amarillo Holy Cross*, 2 p.m. (Saturday)
Oct. 20: at Hedley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 27: vs Lubbock All Saints*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 3: at Notre Dame*, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 10: vs Plainview Christian*, 7 p.m.