BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – With Head Coach Chuck Banks still sidelined, and senior quarterback Dylan Stuecker hobbled with a deep bone bruise, the Central Lee Hawks will have their work cut out for them Friday at Mid-Prairie.
Throw in some forecast wet stuff and things could get even worse, but Banks said you never know what can happen in the mud.
The Hawks (0-2) are coming off a 40-21 loss at Van Buren last week and lost a nail-biter in the week 1 home opener to Pekin.
But the offense has been productive and Washington state transplant Jaedon Betker has made a name for himself on both sides of the line.
Betker has 130 yards on 30 carries and a TD this year from the running back spot, but the senior has also gobbled up 25 tackles, 18 solo, two for losses and a sack in just two games. The 25 tackles is tops in the state in Class 2A.
Banks said Betker may need some help against Mid Prairie on Friday. The Hawks run a three-back, double tight end set to free up ground yards.
“We’re gonna put in a different defensive scheme that may suit us a little better against their run,” Banks said Thursday.
“The 5-2 we started with doesn’t look, with our personnel, like it’s beneficial for us. We’ll move some kids into different sports and see how we go. We’re in the right spots, we’re just not tackling as well as we should be.”
Banks said Friday will be a bend-don’t break night for his Hawks’ defense against a big front from Mid-Prairie.
“I sound like a broken record, but you have to be bend-don’t-break on defense and limit turnovers. We’re coming into this game setting our sights on getting better, but it’s gonna be another slugfest.”
One of the other bright spots for the Hawks has been the play of first year wideout Kade Myhre. The senior has four receiving touchdowns, tied for second in the state in Class 2A, and 158 yards through the air.
“Kade is just a breath of fresh air. He comes and works hard every day. He’s a leader both on and off the field,” Banks said. “Having that positivity and showing that kind of leadership stepping in year one – we just have a lot of kids that have been playing looking up to him.”
Myhre is averaging a whopping 26.3 yards per catch including an 87-yard catch and score from Mason Schau on Friday. Schau stepped in for Stuecker who suffered an injury on a play in the second half. Stuecker was 13-26 for 79 yards and a score before leaving.
Banks said he will probably hold Stuecker out Friday to allow him to heal up for Davis County next week.
Mid-Prairie comes into the contest 0-1 after losing to Sigourney-Keota last week.
Quarterback Vinnie Bowlin, a senior, threw for 238 yards and a touchdown, but was picked off a couple times. Senior Kayden Reinier had a productive day out of the backfield with two scores on 134 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.
Senior Keegan Gingerich has 116 yards and a touchdown. The longest coming on a 61-yard hookup with Bowlin in the fourth quarter of the 27-21 loss at Mid-Prairie.
Banks said rain is in the forecast, but the Hawks will stick to what’s working for them.
“You still run your routes, and your receivers still have to catch the ball. A lot of people would say that negates your plan, but I’ve seen spread teams get into the mud and have some success,” Banks said.