Coach: Mark Buchanan (fourth season, 13-18) | Last season: 7-4 | Class: A, District 5 | Colors: Blue, red and white
Indian Rocks made the playoffs for the first time in three tries under coach Mark Buchanan. The Golden Eagles have been working hard to prove last year's success was no fluke. "Coach wants a 10-0 season this year," wingback/linebacker Ethan Engelbert said. "We're going to try to give it to him."
1. Will the stable of running backs have any holes to run through? A lack of depth on the offensive line was a major concern in the spring but was alleviated somewhat when a few students on campus decided to join the team. Buchanan said he has eight players he can plug in on the line. "They played well in the spring, and they were here all summer, which is huge," he said. Four-year starter Max Heard leads up front at right guard. Sean Harvey and Joel Rhine are returning starters.
2. Who will replace graduated quarterback Matt Oliphant? Blake Farver backed up Oliphant the past two years. This season, the keys to the offense are finally his. How the junior responds as a starter will play an integral role in IRC's success. "He's going to do really well," Sitton said. "He should fill the spot fine."
Bryan Burns, Times staff writer
1. Skill positions. IRC is especially loaded in the backfield where seniors and three-year starters Jonny Sitton and Engelbert return at wingback. Sitton, who at 5-foot-7 has tremendous vision and cutback ability, is coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Lou Mason, another senior, is a tough, physical fullback. Six-foot-2 junior Tyler Ostheim missed all of last season and the spring with an ACL injury but is finally healthy and should make an instant impact at wide receiver. "He's a big-time playmaker," Engelbert said.
2. Defense. With Ostheim at free safety and four-year starter Cameron Dillard at corner, the secondary is "very good" according to Buchanan. Mason moved from middle linebacker to nose guard to take advantage of his quickness. "Centers are going to have problems blocking him," Buchanan said. Darius Sabbides will slide over to middle linebacker.