Led by dynamic duo Jordan Finnesy and Jared Casey, Plainville appears primed to make another run in Class 1A after three straight tremendous seasons.
The Cardinals went 9-3 a year ago before falling to back-to-back state champion Smith Center in the sub-state title game for the second straight year after the Cardinals finished runner-up in 2016.
Seniors Finnesy and Casey are two of the better all-around athletes in Northwest Kansas.
Finnesy, the Cardinals’ quarterback, threw for 1,511 yards and 19 touchdowns while rushing for 12 scores last year. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder also intercepted eight passes at defensive back.
Casey, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound running back/linebacker ran for 956 yards and 14 touchdowns, made 91 tackles and picked off four passes.
“They’re definitely already two well-known kids. Everybody knows they’re good athletes,” Plainville coach Grant Stephenson said. “The best thing about them is they understand our definition of success and they bring that to the table, and that helps everybody else to do the same.”
Stephenson, who enters his fifth year as Plainville head coach, said one of the Cardinals’ biggest concerns will be filling voids on the defensive line.
“We had four or five seniors that played on our defensive line,” Stephenson said. “Finding guys that can fill in at those spots will probably be the biggest challenge.
“We lost a pretty good group of seniors and we’re looking to fill spots right now."
Stephenson said the Cardinals are looking to fine-tune some areas and be detail-oriented.
“We want to do a better job of coaching the details,” Stephenson said. “We want to be making it easy for them so that they can play hard and don’t have to second-guess themselves on anything. We want to be a little more crisp in some areas than we have been in the past.”
Plainville returns five starters on offense and six on defense. Other key returners include junior lineman Jonah Smith, sophomore offensive lineman/linebacker Ben Hanson, junior offensive lineman/linebacker Payton Rathbun and senior receiver/defensive back Cody Crawford.
Stephenson said depth is also a concern.
“We’ve got a team of 26. We don’t even have a JV schedule,” Stephenson said. “With 26 players, if you want to go far, you;ve got to stay healthy.”
Stephenson expects another strong year from the Mid-Continent League as a whole.
"I love playing in the MCL,” Stephenson said. “I think it makes us a better team. I feel like I got a great relationship with the other coaches. We’re all competitive, we all want to win.”
Plainville opens the season on the road at Norton on Sept. 6.