A brand new season is on the horizon and Eldon has quite an act to follow.

A brand new season is on the horizon and Eldon has quite an act to follow.

After an 11-2 finish in 2017 that featured the program’s third district title since 2012 and a run to the Class 3 quarterfinals with school records for single-season wins and offensive production, the Mustangs certainly would not mind for history to repeat itself. However, that task will fall on the shoulders of a few new faces including a new head coach as Chad Hult was promoted from offensive coordinator to lead a team that returns just 11 of its 22 starters.

“For us to be very successful we have to have a couple of young kids step up,” said the first-year head coach who replaced Shannon Jolley after he led the program for 10 years. “We’ve got some established returners coming back and now we have a couple of positions where we need some young players to step up for us to be a complete team.”

Good thing the Mustangs have a solid core of seniors to lead the way who were part of a team in 2017 that rattled off eight straight wins before bowing out just ahead of the state semifinals. Hult said he has been impressed with their attitude so far this summer.

“It is always rocky in the beginning of the season and that is the way it is supposed to be, but this senior group has really come together and stepped up,” he noted to Game Night. “I’m proud of their leadership and that has impressed me so far from that standpoint.”

The Eldon offense returns five starters who will be hoping to emulate the same type of eye-popping numbers from last season that featured 447.7 yards per game, including 381.7 rushing yards per game, to go with a healthy 47.6 points per contest respectively in the Wing-T offense. The Mustangs do not intend to change a style of attack that was clearly successful in 2017.

Hult said the ability to move the chains consistently on Friday nights will start up front with three returning starters on the offensive line in senior left tackle Jakob Krantz, senior right tackle Caleb Wood and junior right guard Jonathon Schoenfeld who combine to average 223.3 pounds. Together, they helped the Mustangs mow down opponents a year ago by creating some room for 7.3 yards per carry and 67 rushing touchdowns.

Eldon will miss significant production from a talented senior class and most notably from the likes of All-State running back Isaiah Merida (1,844 rushing yards, 212 receiving yards, 27 total touchdowns). However, All-Conference and All-District senior quarterback Dawson Brandt will be back under center after putting up 716 passing yards and 15 touchdowns through the air to go with another 836 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Joining him will be the punishing All-Conference and All-District fullback Isaiah Parsons who added 1,273 rushing yards of his own to go with 23 touchdowns.

“Our strength will be the guys up front and we have a lot of experience with a good understanding of the system,” Hult explained to Mid-Missouri Pigskin Preview. “We have two returning players in the backfield that should provide some excitement.”

Meanwhile, the Mustang defense will feature a 3-4 formation once again that allowed 147 passing yards, 167 rushing yards and 27.3 points per outing a season ago. The defense will be anchored by six returning starters that Hult will be counting on to make their presence known.

Along the front seven consisting of the defensive line and linebackers are junior defensive end Kaden Dillon, Schoenfeld at nose guard, Krantz at defensive end and Parsons at middle linebacker. The secondary will feature the return of junior Logan Hall at strong safety and the hard-hitting Brandt at free safety who earned All-Conference, All-District and All-State honors for his efforts in 2017.

“Our defensive line and secondary should be the strength of our defense this year,” Hult pointed out to Mid-Missouri Pigskin Preview. “This group should be much improved with a new mindset and flying around.”

There will be some new members of the Mustang gridiron gang to keep an eye on as well, particularly in the skill positions. Hult described senior cornerback and wide receiver Trenton Phillips as “explosive” and “the fastest kid on the team” to Mid-Missouri Pigskin Preview and he will be joined by senior Parker Dunham and Nathaniel Wardenburg at the same positions whom Hult commended for their smarts and athleticism. Other players to watch out for are junior safety and wide receiver Collin Tamm that Hult will count upon for his versatility and senior offensive and defensive lineman Scott Johnson who will be a “big and physical presence” in the trenches.

For anything Eldon may be lacking, Hult will ask his players to make up for it with sheer physicality. The Mustangs will be hoping to diminish the will of anyone lined up across from them on Friday nights.

“My philosophy is to control the ball and limit big plays. We want to wear teams out and make them earn everything they get offensively,” the coach told Mid-Missouri Pigskin Preview.

Hult is confident in his crew and their potential, eager to see if they may have a similar type of run in them to pursue another district title and more. However, with all of the excitement that last season produced, the coach emphasized how important it was for everyone to be on the same page once again if they hope to produce similar results.

For Hult, that was never more evident than the first game against Owensville last season where the Mustangs outlasted the Dutchmen in a 72-69 shootout. Eldon later went on to claim the district title over that same Owensville team near the end of the season.

“What we learned last year was playing as a team. Everybody talks about that and that group really came together last year,” Hult remarked to Game Night. “The first Owensville game was kind of a turning point for those guys and they kept building on that so if we stay together we can do a lot of great things.”

Time will soon tell if Eldon may be capable of more great things when the Mustangs open the season at home against Bolivar on August 24 at 7 p.m.

WEEK ONE TALE OF THE TAPE

Eldon 2017 Finish: 11-2

Bolivar 2017 Finish: 3-7

Eldon 2017 Points For: 47.6

Eldon 2017 Points Against: 27.3

Bolivar 2017 Points For: 26.7

Bolivar 2017 Points Against: 23.9