Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
Opening night of the prep football season is just days away for area teams.
Each new season brings a fresh start for every team along with a brand new set of state championship contenders and standout players.
Many of the players that will lead area teams this season have already made a name for themselves with big seasons a year ago while some new stars will shine this season
Before area teams kick off the season on Friday here are 11 area performers in position for possible breakthrough seasons.
The numbers for Strunk didn’t leap off the page last season but his play on the defensive line was a big factor in the success of the West High linebacking corps the produced the Trojans top four tacklers.
Watch for the 6-foot-0, 215-pound Strunk to put up his own big tackle totals this season after making 26.5 stops including 11 for loss and 4.5 sacks a year ago.
Miller steered Solon to an 11-1 record and a state semifinal berth last season after being handed the keys to the Spartan offense as a sophomore.
With a year of experience under his belt and more responsibility as an offensive leader expect Miller to flourish in a Solon attack filled with athletes.
A sturdy 6-foot, 200-pounder, Miller passed for 1,831 yards and 25 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes in his first season as a starter.
Another young quarterback ready to breakthrough, Cook showed flashes of big-time talent as a freshman.
The 6-foot-4 lefty completed 63 percent of his passes while throwing for 640 yards and four touchdowns in a reserve roll last fall.
Cook passed for 120 yards and a touchdown in a semifinal win and should be in for a big season with a deep and talented group of receivers at his disposal.
Hefley was solid last season, ranking fourth on the team with 28.5 tackles from his linebacker spot.
For City High to improve on its two-win season from a year ago it will need seniors like Hefley to be more than just solid this fall and the 5-foot-9, 175-pound linebacker appears up to the task.
A state qualifier in wrestling, Hefley will try to carry his breakthrough season on the mat last winter over to the football field this fall.
Bowie burst onto the scene last fall as an imposing 6-4, 225-pound freshman and collected a team-high 8.5 sacks in his debut season.
The scary part for West Branch opponents in 2018 is Bowie is bigger, stronger and back for more.
Bowie ranked sixth on the team with 33.5 tackles and led the Bears with 14 for loss.
Rohret has been an important piece of the puzzle for the Clippers the past two seasons on defense but will be turned to as an offensive leader this fall.
A two-year starter at outside linebacker, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Rohret will add quarterbacking duties to his plate this season.
Limited by injury a year ago, Rohret appears poised for a big senior year and strong end to his career.
After spending last season backing up graduated senior Bryce Hunger at quarterback Wells gets his shot at leading the City High offense.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound senior completed 9-of-27 passes for 45 yards a year ago and was 7-for-21 for 35 yards in his only start against Bettendorf.
Stockman came on late last season leading the Clippers in rushing twice over the final four games.
The 5-8, 150-pound senior rushed for 351 yards and three scores on a team-leading 92 carries with 178 yards and two touchdowns coming in the final four games.
Stockman appears poised to pick up where he left off last season.
Following a solid freshman football season the big breakthrough for Wick came in the spring when he established himself as one of the premier soccer players in Class 1A.
Wick will go for a similar breakthrough on the gridiron this fall.
The 6-foot, 162-pounder caught 29 passes for 347 yards and two scores a year ago and had five grabs for 85 yards in a 1A semifinal win over Pella Christian.
McAreavy returns with experience on both sides of the ball after starting as a fullback and linebacker a year ago but look for his breakthrough to come on defense.
West High lost three starting linebackers that all ranked in the top four on the team in tackles and the 6-foof-1, 200-pound McAreavy is primed to pick up the slack.
McAreavy made 22 tackles including four for loss and had 1.5 sacks last year as a junior.
Arndt was a starter for the Regals last season but much more is expected from the athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pounder receiver and defensive back this season.
As a defensive back Arndt made 18 tackles a year ago and added eight grabs for 142 yards and a score as a receiver.
Expect both of those numbers to balloon this season as Arndt takes on a bigger role as a senior.