BAXTER SPRINGS - In 2014, Coach Tim Parrish took over a football program that for three years previous was, let’s say, less than stellar. In 2011, the Baxter Springs football team was blanked for the season. Under Coach Parrish’s tutelage the Lions have improved every year.

Last year the Lions had their first winning season since 2009, as they finished the 2016 season with a record of 5-4. With close to 40 players out, the most since the olden days, Coach Parrish commented: "Going 5-4 does have something to do with the number count. A winning season gave a new attitude. We have some new kids that wanted to give it a shot, and be part of it."

Three offensive starters return from last year’s squad. A. J. Himes, a 210 lb senior, on the offensive line was chosen Honorable Mention CNC League. Second year starter junior Trey White returns at quarterback with that very important first year under his belt. White has a big 255 pound senior center in Kenny Herrenbruck.

"We’re short on experience at running back," said Coach Parrish.

A trio of 150 lb running backs will step in for the graduated ball carriers from last year. Seniors Tyler Price and Spencer Barnard, along with sophomore Austin Hendrix.

The Lion’s lines on both offense and defense will be huge for small high school standards. In addition to Himes and Herrenbruck are seniors Blythe Ipock, 250 lb, and 270 lb Justin Schneiders, plus 260 lb junior Tristan Bush. Not bad. 250, 210, 255, 270, and 260 across the lines.

"We have some big size guys upfront, and they can move as they have matured," said Coach Parrish.

Slotted at tight ends are sophomore Kyler Reece, 6’ 2” 180 lb, and newcomer senior Julio Mojica, 6’ 1” 160 lb. Vying time at wide receiver, all at 5’ 11” 160 lbs, are senior Tyrae Skye, and juniors Colby Stark and Jacob Burks.

Five starters on the defense return. Senior 285 lb Jace Flood was Second Team CNC in 2016 on the line. At linebackers Himes and 175 lb senior Narciso Ortiz man those positions. Junior 250 lb Dawson Adams is back on the line, along with Scheneiders, Flood, and newcomer Ipock. Barnard started in mid-season as a defensive back, and improved greatly as the season progressed. How about a new comer soccer player to step in as a kicker? Senior Jose Leon will try his hand at a new sport.

Aside from finding a go to running back, and finding some depth at defensive back, the Lions seem to be ready to go deep into the play offs.