Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
Leading up to the start of the football season the focus is almost always on the star players.
Most of the preseason attention seems to be paid to the standouts, the all-state picks and the Division I recruits.
Every team in the Your Prep Sports area has at least a few of those players that grab the early season spotlight.
With four playoff qualifying teams last season including a pair of state runner-ups the Your Prep Sports area has loads of talented players.
Many of those players do their work outside of the spotlight.
A week before the 2018 season gets underway here is a look at 11 of the top area players that make big-time contributions under the radar.
Perhaps no position is undervalued as much as interior defensive lineman but Green is simply becoming too good to ignore.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound defensive tackle ranked sixth on the team with 30 tackles a year ago despite missing four games with injury.
After posting 10 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks a year ago Green will be hard to overlook as a senior.
Offensive linemen are the prototypical under the radar players and Murry is no exception.
A two-year starter, the 6-foot-2, 265-pound Murry has been a key component on the Little Hawk line the past two seasons and will try to take it up a notch this season as a senior.
It’s tough for a high school player with 40 receptions to go under the radar but that’s exactly what Schiele did a year ago.
With the spotlight on record-breaking quarterback Beau Cornwell and a strong group of senior skill position players Schiele quietly had an impressive season catching 40 passes for 397 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears slot receiver.
Th 5-foot-9, 160-pound Schiele who doubles as a defensive back also ranked third on the team with 39.5 tackles and had a team-high three interceptions.
At 5-foot-9, 160-pounds Denny doesn’t have prototypical linebacker size but he had big-time production last season as a sophomore.
Denny made a team-high 49.5 tackles as a 140-pound sophomore and third on the team with 35 solo stops.
Clark had the production to draw praise last season with 27 receptions for 339 yards and two touchdowns but went under the radar due to a Regina offense loaded with playmakers.
Regina will have a stable full of skill position athletes capable of putting up stats this season but expect the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Clark to have a bigger role in the Regal offense.
Coons had a big-time debut season as a sophomore leading Solon in receiving yards and touchdowns but most of the focus for the Spartans was on a strong run game and dominating defense.
The 6-foot-4 junior receiver will be tough to miss this season after averaging 24 yards per catch while rolling up 552 yards and eight touchdowns a year ago.
West High has produced an all-state offensive lineman in each of its back-to-back 4A runner-up seasons leaving plenty of strong Trojan lineman flying under the radar.
A second-team all-district pick a year ago Gluesing certainly fits into that category.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Gluesing started 12 games at left tackle a year ago and will be a key building block on what should be another strong West High front this season.
Gisleson didn’t start his junior season as a starter but ended the year as one of the top defenders on a Clear Creek Amana defense that made strides late in the season.
The six interceptions for Gisleson ranked third in Class 3A and he added 14.5 tackles from his cornerback spot.
It is hard to image a team’s leading tackler being overshadowed but that was the situation for Hatfield last season.
The middle linebacker led West Branch with 63 tackles, 18 more than any other Bear, and had a team-best 37 solo stops.
Kula was the change of pace back in a running back time share with graduated senior Kendrick Harris a year ago.
Despite sharing carries Kula rushed for 854 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging better than six yards a carry.
On a defense filled with all-state picks and Division I recruits there are bound to be some players that are overlooked.
Halverson fit that mold last season playing in the shadow of senior standouts like Dillon Doyle, Trumell Roberts and Dillon Shephard.
A 6-foot-3, 210-pound defensive Halverson was a disruptive force a year ago earning all-district honors after 12.5 of his 26.5 tackles came behind the line of scrimmage including three sacks.