Prep Football

Midland tries to reload after two state semifinal appearances

Big, athletic and experienced line could help offensive production lost to graduation

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WYOMING — Midland football has experienced a run of success.

Two consecutive trips to the state semifinals. Three straight postseason appearances with 24 total victories over that stretch.

This season, the Eagles have some big cleats to fill with the graduation of all-stater Austin Smith, who led 8-Player football with 2,892 rushing yards, 47 rushing touchdowns and 309 carries.

Midland will have a good gauge of its ability to pick up where the last two nine-win seasons left off, hosting fifth-ranked Lone Tree Friday in the season opener.

“You never know until you line up Friday and play, but based on the personnel I’d say we reloaded pretty well,” first-year Midland head coach Lennie Miller said. “Maybe not in the dynamic fashion of Austin Smith, but across the board we’re pretty set.”

Even though the Eagles may not have their top-producing skill player, they have all-district players in the trenches to lead the way. Center Brett Schoenherr and guard Hunter Shoaff were first-teamers a year ago, while guard Luke Lasack earned second-team honors.

Miller said the strength transfers to the defensive front as well.

“We have a lot of stability, because all of that offensive line comes back,” Miller said. “The offensive line is the heart and soul of where we’re at right now. The offensive and defensive line.”

The Eagles’ line is large. Shoaff, who dead lifts 500 pounds, is 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds. Lasack comes in at 6-1 and 270. Schoenherr is an experienced pillar to the line and is 5-11 and 230. Ethan Kaftan will be part of the rotation at 6-3 and 315.

“We’re big and athletic right across the front,” Miller said. “We are confident against just about anybody.”

Britt Martens and Carter Mohr will play a large role in the offensive. Martens is the returning starter at quarterback. He threw for 770 yards and 16 TDs and rushed for 283 yards with five scores on the ground.

Mohr was the Eagles’ leading receiver last season, hauling in 24 catches for 445 yards and 10 TDs.

“Brit comes back at quarterback,” Miller said. “He’s solid. He runs well and throws well.

“Mohr is going to float in and out of that backfield as well. … He’s a bigger kid that runs well. We throw out of the backfield so he keeps that skill set at his disposal.”

Some promising newcomers could make an impact. Miller said the system allows players to take their time coming up and then hit the ground running when they step into the lineup. Alex Smith, Austin’s brother, and Wilson Buckwalter could emerge as producers.

“We have a system where we don’t rush them in,” Miller said. “Alex is going to be ready. He will see some time. Wilson Buckwalter will see some time. Both of them are pretty nice runners for us.”

Midland has fallen to defending state champion Don Bosco in the semifinals each of the last two seasons, playing the Dons in early-season matchups as well. The Eagles welcome the tough tests to start the season.

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“We sought the opportunity,” Miller said. “We have a lot of respect for Lone Tree, so we thought that would be a good game to test ourselves and see where we’re at.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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