By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Galena Bulldogs football coach Beau Sarwinski is pleased with the progress his team made during 7-on-7 drills at Galena this past June.
“We’ve had a really good summer,” he said. “I’ve been real pleased with their efforts. Weightlifting has gone well, and 7-on-7 went really well. We’re plugging along.”
Riverton, Columbus, Frontenac, Commerce, Wyandotte and Fairland traveled to Galena on Tuesdays in June to work on passing drills.
Galena returns seven starters on each side of the ball from a team that finished 6-4 and advanced to the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
“One of the good things about 7-on-7 is that it gives our running backs and receivers a good opportunity to learn how to run crisp routes,” Sarwinski said. “It helps our quarterback with all the reps we get. It’s something we always try to get better at.”
Junior Kyler Cook returns at quarterback for the Bulldogs. Galena also returns junior running back Logan Johnson and wide receivers Nick Sivert and J.C. Pugsley at the skill positions.
The drills also are a big benefit to a team’s secondary in the increasingly pass-happy CNC League.
“It may help more from a defensive standpoint,” Sarwinski said. “It helps with pass coverages. It helps running cover 3. It seems like everybody’s spreading it out and throwing the football now.”
Riverton returns six starters on each side of the ball from last year’s 5-4 team.
“Overall, I thought our guys competed very well,” Rams coach Derrick Rider said. “We got some guys in there who are a little younger and don’t have a lot of varsity playing experience. I was pleased with how we competed. I felt like we threw the ball pretty well as things went along.”
Quarterback Chandler Underhill, wide receiver Landon North and tight end Jacob Qualls return as starters at the skill positions for the Rams. North and Underhill each earned all-CNC honors last year.
Rider said he is expecting about 32 kids out for football.
Columbus coach Dan Grundy said his team also benefited from 7-on-7 drills.
“We had our ups and downs,” Grundy said. “But we played pretty well overall.”
Nate Bole returns to lead the Titans offense at quarterback after earning all-CNC honorable mention in 2012.
“He’s a good dual threat kid,” Grundy said. “He runs the ball well, and he’s really developing the passing part of his game. He did very well. Having a year of experience helps. He’s taking control of the offense.”
As odd as it sounds, the Titans will be young and experienced at the same time. Even though Columbus has only six seniors on its roster, the Titans will return six starters on each side of the ball.
Columbus finished 4-6 last year and made the first round of the 4A playoffs after starting the season 0-3. The Titans look to get off to a better start.
“I really commend the team last year,” Grundy said. “High school kids usually have a tough time from rebounding from that. But they hung in there. Still, game one is so important.”
Columbus opens the season Sept. 5 at Southeast. Galena travels to face Baxter Springs on Sept. 6. Riverton opens Sept. 6 at Frontenac.
“It will be here before you know it,” Sarwinski said.