By William

LITTLE RIVER – The Little River football team has two games to makeup for in the 2020 season as they lost their first and final games of the season in 2019, two games that kept them from a possible run at a state title.

Kevin Ayers returns for his second go round as the Redskin head coach and is looking to better their 9-2 mark in his first season.

“Our top priority is building the culture and chemistry,” noted Coach Ayers. “We have had a great summer and return a good nucleus of players. We do lose three of our top four tacklers on the defensive side of the ball, so filling those holes will be a must.”

The Redskins do have a solid compliment of players returning, including eight players who started with six of eight starters returning on offense and five of eight on defense.

On offense, Little River is led by their two-headed monster in seniors Graham Stephens and Jayden Garrison who combined for 3,135 yards in offense during the 2019 season. Both players split time at quarterback and running back with Stephens picking up 1,111 yards (682 rushing, 34 receiving, 395 passing) while Garrison rattled off 2,024 yards (1,234 rushing, 346 receiving, 444 passing). The also combined for 55 touchdowns (Garrison had 32 and Stephens had 21) and 46 conversions (Garrison had 18 and Stephens connected on 28).

The other four returning offensive starters include junior offensive linemen Kaden Shafer and Carter Holloway, plus senior wide receivers Trey Rolfs and Keaton Richardson, and sophomore tight end Braxton Lafferty.

On defense the Redskins will return five starters including the entire defensive backfield of senior Cade Young plus Garrison, Stephens, and Richardson along with Lafferty at linebacker.

Being counted on to fill in where needed will be returning lettermen Josh Braden, a senior, plus juniors Kyle Bruce and Ty Herzog and sophomores Grant Stephens and Rylan Konen.

The season will not be easy as two of the five teams in 8 Man Division I, Canton/Galva and Clifton-Clyde will be on the Redskin schedule.

Concluding his preseason reflections, Coach Ayers added, “We have to play a more physical style of football if we want to compete at the highest levels. Our kids are hungry, and we hope to put an improved team on the field every week of the season.”

Little River will begin their 2020 schedule with a pair of road games at Peabody and Clifton-Clyde before returning home for games with Goessel and Lincoln.

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