By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
The cast of characters has changed, but the scene and storyline is quite similar for the Preston football team.
After successfully defending their district championship, the Trojans kick off the postseason in eight-player football against Riceville at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Preston.
The Trojans certainly wouldn’t mind a rerun.
Last year, they opened the postseason by beating the visitors from Riceville 56-13.
Preston coach Kevin Behr doesn’t think any of that matters, though.
“We’re a much different team than last year, and they are as well,” he said. “So much can change in a year with personnel.”
Both squads graduated their top players from a year ago, creating an opening for a new group of players to take over.
“At the beginning of every year the challenge is to recover from the seniors you lost, but we had some good returners in the line, and that’s a big position and a huge plus,” Behr said. “Almost all of our skill players were new to the varsity experience, and they’ve done a great job. This is possibly the best offense we have had in a while, stat-wise.”
The offensive numbers have been staggering. The Trojans rank second in the state in scoring (543 points in nine games) and are ninth in total offense (3,661 yards).
Senior Colin Larson directs that offense. He has rushed for 521 yards and completed 41 of 84 passes for 735 yards with just two interceptions.
Junior Andrew Driscoll has taken over as the featured back in the offense and has rushed for 1,408 yards. Another junior, Chase Zaruba, has run for 689 yards. Those two, and junior Logan Wilhelm, have combined for 716 receiving yards, each with at least 200 yards.
Riceville’s numbers aren’t nearly as gaudy.
Senior Sam Back leads the running game with 541 yards, while junior Ryan Shedenhelm has 512 to go along with 607 yards passing (35 of 71). Senior Justin Anderlik is a triple threat on offense. He has run for 443 yards, passed for 199 and caught 26 passes for 459 yards.
The teams have two common opponents. Riceville lost to both Gilbertville Don Bosco (34-14) and Lansing Kee (28-20), while Preston beat Kee (43-36) and suffered its lone loss of the year to Don Bosco (58-41).
“Back at the Bosco game, I said we will get better from this loss, and I think we have,” Behr said. “You learn more from a loss than a win. We worked at areas where we saw we were weak. From that loss we have gotten better as a team.”
Good enough, they hope, to make a nice run in the playoffs.
“I think they realize in the playoffs there’s more at stake,” Behr said. “There is no tomorrow. The kids are excited. They’re looking forward to going out Wednesday and putting on a good show.”