By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas
Meade has been a single wing team for the last 14 years under Scott Moshier and Justin Powell. Moshier is the Buffs’ all-time winningest coach with 107 victories and two state 11-man titles in 10 seasons. Then, Powell, a longtime assistant took over as head coach in 2017 when Moshier moved to Wichita.
Bryan Luetters, who had served on school board and helped Moshier’s teams with statistics, had joined Powell’s staff as an assistant. When Powell resigned in mid-winter, Luetters applied for the head coaching position.
Luetters went and talked with Powell and wanted to make sure he had his blessing. Powell was fine with Luetters taking over. Powell believed Luetters would be a great coach. This fall, Powell has helped some with film breakdown and given Meade encouraging words. Powell’s younger boys serve as Meade’s ball boys for the home games.
“I have great respect for coach Powell,” Luetters said. “Great guy, he coached my son all the way through his high school career and nothing but a standup guy.”
Luetters, an avid reader of football scheme, elected to change Meade from its single wing look to a shotgun offense. The defense switched to a 3-3 stack. Plus, the Buffs returned nearly 100 percent of its offensive production from 2020. That’s yielded a jump from 4-3 and non-playoff berth to 12-0.
“An historic single wing team,” Luetters said. “And second year of eight man, and it didn’t quite work out for us with that single wing. We couldn’t make it translate, so we revamped the whole offense. We are a 100 percent shotgun team now. We still run a lot of power and things out of it. We are a little more balanced now. We can pass the ball a lot when we need to, and we have got a lot of good athletes for the eight-man level.”
On Saturday, Meade will face defending champion Little River (12-0) for the Eight-Man, Division I state championship at Newton’s Fischer Field. Start time is 11 a.m. Meade has won 14 straight games, LR has 20 consecutive wins. The Buffs still run a lot of power offense but are more balanced. Plus, Luetters has run year-round weights for the last seven years.
“Our No. 1 goal was to get better every single day,” Luetters said. “No. 2 was to be 1-0 every week, and the next goal was, if we make those first two goals, we want to be playing our best football in November, which means we had to make the playoffs.”
Meade has eight experienced seniors, including quarterback Torren Haynes, halfback Korben Clawson, receiver Joshua Hughes, tight end Zach Volden and linemen Carson Godfrey, Zach Hawley and Cullen Lumry. In preseason, the Buffs were a KPreps Potential Breakout Team.
Haynes, Clawson, Lumry and junior lineman Brady Papay are the four captains. Junior receiver Grayden Stapleton, junior linebacker Brayden Norris and sophomore receiver Brock Keith, who missed all of last season because of injury, have also served as key players.
Haynes has completed 72 of 116 passes for 1,416 yards with 18 scores against six interceptions. Meade has thrown the ball 23 percent of the time. Clawson has 253 carries for 1,812 yards and 31 scores. Haynes has 123 carries for 1,226 yards and 21 scores. Stapleton and Keith have combined for 54 catches for 16 TDs.
“The biggest improvement we’ve made is these kids trust in this offense and getting better,” Luetters said.
Norris has 117 tackles, 10 for loss, along with five fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles. Volden has six fumble recoveries. Meade is plus-24 in turnover margin with just seven miscues.
Last year, Meade passed on 20 percent of plays. Clawson ran for 763 yards in seven games. Meade committed nine turnovers and was plus-three in turnover margin.