COLUMBUS — After a rough 2012 season, the Columbus Titans are back, healthy and ready for their first game on Sept. 5.
Columbus Head Coach Dan Grundy said they’re much deeper and more experienced than last year. After several injuries early in the season there were freshmen and sophomores starting on the line, which was a contributing factor to last year’s 4-6 record.
“We have many experienced players in the skill positions,” Grundy said. “And we have several kids back in skill positions.”
Despite being picked first in the Crawford-Neosho-Cherokee league in the preseason coach’s poll, Grundy said he’s not expecting an easy year.
“This year top to bottom this league is pretty good,” he said. “There’s just not any ‘gimmies.’
“The entire CNC (is tough) and then you add Fort Scott and Coffeyville as two of your nonleague games and everyone on your schedule is tough.”
To help see things through this season there is a tough core of returning starters, Kendal Hale, Nate Bole, Jace McDown, AJ Randle, Zack Roark, Zane Roark who was injured in the preseason last year, Taylor Watkins, Travis Hodgson, Justin Graham and Garrett Brittain
Columbus is known as a spread-offense team, and that will not change this year.
“Offensively we will continue to spread teams out,” Grundy said. “We will be able to throw it as well as be physical and run on teams too.”
He said Bole, who started as a sophomore last year, and whose ability to run was never in doubt, but whose arm was occasionally questionable, is back and Grundy said his arm is considerably better and a year’s experience in the position hasn’t hurt, either.
“He’s made great strides,” Grundy said. “He’s made a lot better decisions in practice this year.
Defensively, the Titans expect to be very aggressive, and while not huge on the D-line, Grundy said his team is very strong.
“We’re not huge,” he said. “We’ve got more strength than anything.”
He noted they do have a few big men up front, including AJ Box who is six-foot five-inches tall and well over 200 pounds.
“I think defensively we’re going to be pretty solid,” he said.
Columbus faces Southeast at 7 p.m. Sept. 5 in Cherokee to start the season.