Head Coach: Ryan Kirk
Years as Head Coach: 1st Season
Previous Experience: 5 Seasons as Assistant
Record Last Year: 10-1
State Titles: 1993, 1995, 1997
Olav Stanton, OL/DL, 12
Eli Frazier, OL/DL, 12
Dawson Stokes, WR/DE, 12
Patch Pope, RB/DB, 12
Seth Jones, WR/LB, 12
Skyyler Frazier, WR/LB, 11
Bodee Swanson, QB/DB, 11
Nick Winter, OL/DL, 11
Wyatt Loyd, RB/LB, 10
Brayden Stapleton, RB/DB, 10
Garrison Bogar, OL/DL, 10
Preston Johnson, WR/LB, 10
Chandler Patterson, OL/DL, 10
Luis Diaz, WR/LB, 10
Joel Yanguez, OL/DL, 10
Tyler Jones, WR/DE, 10
Returning Players with Honors:
Eli Frazier, All-State
Olav Stanton, All-League
Key Players lost from last year:
Jalen Kirk, All-State
Tanner Anderson, All-State
Jayce Weinmann, All-State
Parker Johnston, All-League
Colten Heath, All-League
Zane Kinzer, All-League
James Loyd, All-League
Photo By: Kelly Magee - #70 Eli Frazier
Written By: Will Hoenike
On the heels of a ten-win season and an appearance in the 1A Division 2 state semifinals, the Deary Mustangs are welcoming in a new head coach and a slew of new starters on the football field.
Ryan Kirk, a five-year assistant coach, ascends to the top position after Darrah Eggers stepped down over the offseason. Kirk inherits a deep team, rich in numbers, but a team that must replace three All-State performers and four more All-White Star performers.
“I’m most excited to see how the kids that were backups last year respond to becoming starters,” Kirk said. “They have talent, but confidence is the key to developing them into solid players and teammates. So, watching them grow from game to game will be fun.”
The 2017 edition of the Mustangs ended up with a plus-360 in the point differential category, so the staff had ample opportunity to get its younger players into the game – and they were lauded on more than one occasion for doing so versus leaving star players on the field to pile up statistics.
The “star power” may be gone for Deary – no Jalen Kirk (Ryan’s son), no Colten Heath, no Parker Johnston, among others – but the Mustangs return what many coaches believe is the ultimate key to winning football games: a strong and talented offensive and defensive front.
Leading the way is returning second-team All-State lineman Eli Frazier. The 245-pound senior helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 50 points per game and helped create a wall for a defense that allowed, on average, about 16 points per contest. He’s joined up front by All-White Pine honoree Olav Stanton. The coaching staff lists upwards of seven other candidates, not including incoming freshmen, who could fill that third role along the offensive front, including a pair of 200-pound youngsters in junior Nick Winter and sophomore Chandler Patterson.
“Our strength will be our line,” Kirk said. “We have some good sized kids to hold down the line of scrimmage.”
Junior Bodee Swanson appears to have the inside track to replace Colten Heath at quarterback, but Kirk said the staff was exploring some player shifts to maximize the skills of their players. Thus, time will tell exactly which player steps into which position when the season kicks off in August. Senior Patrick “Patch” Pope and sophomore Wyatt Loyd also appear to be in line to take on prominent roles for Deary this fall.
Like a strong line, almost any coach will immediately point to tackling as a key to the upcoming season. Kirk is no different. He said the staff feels the team did a good job tackling last season but it’s something the team can still improve upon.
“We are hoping that our (defensive) front three will command a double team here and there to free up the linebackers to make plays,” Kirk continued.
The team must replace All-State linebacker Jayce Weinmann but, as with other positions, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of candidates. Senior Seth Jones, junior Skyyler Frazier, and Loyd could all become key contributors on defense.
Deary and nearby rival Kendrick have ruled the roost in the 1A Division 2 White Star Conference for the past few years. There seems to be a strong contender for king of the conference mountain, so to speak, in Lewis County. Deary will host the Eagles, who return a host of offensive playmakers, on September 14. Then comes the big matchup against Kendrick, also in Deary, on October 12.
It is by no means a two-week season and there are other worthy foes on the schedule for Deary in 2018. But taking care of business at home in those two games would position the Mustangs well for a return trip to the 1A Division 2 state playoffs.