With 46 years of coaching experience at the junior high, high school levels, and Missouri Southern, Coach Johnny Mallatt is in his second year at the head of the Riverton football. Coach Mallatt is trying to resurrect a winning tradition back at Wyatt P. Laughlin Field. His assistants are Danny Weaver, Blake Arehart, Klye Dannelly, and Adam Babcock.

"It all starts with tradition and numbers in the peewees, middle school, and the junior varsity," said Coach Mallat. "We have 35 out this year, with a good group of freshmen. Riverton hasn’t been able to practice a complete squad on offense or defense the last four years. We started with 13 kids last year, then 12, and ended with 11 on the JV team. All of those kids are back. Without a JV, they probably wouldn’t be out."

Coach Mallatt has a good balance in the lower three grades. The Rams only have three seniors out, but WR/DB Tyler Larison (6’1” 175) and OL/DL Michael Kilter ( 6’0” 185) both started last year. The third senior is athletic newcomer Josh Thompson (5’8” 185), and is pegged to be the quarterback in the Ram “tried and true” Wing-T offense.

Five juniors started last year. RB/DB Austin Wald (5’7” 130), RB/DL Gavin Gilmore (6’0” 210), RB/LB Ethan Shawver (5’7” 185), OL/LB Patrick McLaughlin (5’10” 175), OL/DL Brandon Nielson (5’10” 230), and OL/DL Trevor Parsons (6’2” 225).

Four sophomores started as freshmen, center/DL Austin Anderson (5’10” 160), TE/LB Dominick Rooks (5’9” 200), RB/DB Will Shawver, and RB/LB Calyb Allen (5’7” 140).

With the last six games pre-determined with district play, only the first three games are at the school’s choice.

"Athletic Director Weaver asked me what three schools I wanted," said Coach Mallatt. "I insisted that Galena and Baxter Springs had to continue their rivalry. It took a while to find a school with an open date and we found Lighthouse Christian of Springfield for our third game. We will play them at home, and travel there next year."

Galena last year went 9-0 in their regular season, and added three more wins in the postseason. They finished 12-1, with their only loss coming from to Silver Lake. The Bulldogs scored 438 points, and gave up 102. The 2017 team was loaded with outstanding seniors, but with their scoring leads the underclassmen saw plenty of action.

Seven starters return this year, with first team CNC League quarterback J.C. Shelton (5’8“ 180) leading the Wing-T offense. In the backfield, and as a linebacker, is second team CNC running back Kooper Lawson (5’8” 190), and unanimous first team CNC at linebacker Joseph Helton (5’9’ 190). Helton is also a key running back. Receiving CNC Honorable Mention last year were WR/DB Blake Booth (6’0” 180), and OL/DL Weston Ward (6’3” 240). Classmates RB Logan Henderson (6’4” 190), and DE Braydon Roberts (5’10” 180) are also returning starters.

Assistant coaches for the Bulldogs are Derik Hunt, J.C. Dawes, Jacoby Martin, and Ryan Byrd.

The Columbus Titans have been a perpetual powerhouse in the CNC, building an epic legacy under Head Coach Dan Grundy. Columbus finished with a 7-2 regular season record last year.

After starting the year on a five-game winning streak, they fell to Galena 33-29 in week six, and again to Frontenac two weeks later 20-8. Both losses were away games. They lost a nail-bitter to Burlington 22-21 in the opening round of the playoffs.

The Titans return nine starters this year, and will be led by a seven senior athletes.

Coming off a 4-5 record for 2017, Baxter Springs’ fifth year head coach Tim Parrish returns nine starters, with five seniors being starters from last year. The Lions have a total 34 players out. Last year the Lions were long upfront on the lines, but not deep on skilled players. This year it is the opposite. Holes will be needed to fill on the offense and defense lines.

The Lions will be led in their Diamond I offense by third year starter quarterback senior Trey White (6’2” 175). White received second team honors in the CNC as a defensive back.

Additional starters returning are seniors OL/DL Dawson Adams (6’1” 250), WR/DB Kobe Stark (6’2” 140), WR/DB Jacob Burks (6’2” 180), and OL/LB Michael Dardenne (5’11” 220). Junior starters returning are OL/LB Salfel Felix (5’8” 200), TE/DE Zach Hill (5’11” 180), RB/LB Logan Henderson (5’8” 140), and RB/LB Gage Piper (5’8” 140).

Other impact players are senior WR/DB Colins Bivins-Hance (6’1” 165), junior OL/DL Rudy Sanell (5’10” 240), and sophomores RB/LB Kain McCully (6’3” 200), and QB/LB Braydon Barnard (5’9” 180). Three newcomers that plan to add action for the Lions are WR/DB Wyatt Buck (6’3” 180), and junior OL/DL Caleb Burks (6’0” 180). A transfer from Pittsburg is junior Clayton Haake (6’2” 190), and is projected to be a tight end/defensive back.

Galena and Riverton kick off the 2018 season in Riverton on Aug. 31. Columbus is hosting St. Mary's-Colgan, of Pittsburg, for week one and Baxter Springs will also start that night hosting Girard. Let the Friday Night Lights begin.