Kansas high school football starts in full force next Friday night and Pittsburg showed its fans a sneak preview of the near future Friday evening in the Purple and White Scrimmage at Hutchinson Field.

Kansas high school football starts in full force next Friday night and Pittsburg showed its fans a sneak preview of the near future Friday evening in the Purple and White Scrimmage at Hutchinson Field.

Head coach Tom Nickelson said his roster’s in shape for the opening game against Coffeyville. For example, senior Joe Wimmer beat out junior Spencer Bernhardt for the starting quarterback job, Bernhardt moves over to receiver and junior Garrett Brummitt will get the starting nod in the first game over senior Marcus Striplin at running back.

“Most starting positions have been locked down,” Nickelson said. “It’s just a matter of executing now. Yeah, No. 1s and No. 2s are set.”
Kaleb Owens, a transfer from Joplin, will see playing time at split end and outside linebacker.

Gershom Avalos will be the starting kicker against Coffeyville, a soccer-style kicker who’s adjusting to kicking a football.

“He’s been very consistent,” Nickelson said. “Tonight, first time with the crowd under the lights, he was a little inconsistent. This is the first night he’s ever shown that, so I was glad we came here and got him used to this environment when there’s people here. Gershom is going to do a good job for us this year.”

During the scrimmage Friday night, Wimmer broke two long runs, Striplin took a pitch from Wimmer and scored on a long run, and Brummitt, Nick Vacca and Dillon O’Dell all scored on short-yardage runs. Senior receiver Jornell Fondren scored a touchdown on a catch and run.

The offense seemed to be ahead of the defense Friday night.

“The positions are there, but we’ve got to be a lot more aggressive and play with a lot more attitude,” Nickelson said. “We have to fly to the ball and play Pittsburg defense. We have to instill that in all 11 guys and it takes 11 guys flying to the ball on every play. There’s no plays off on defense. It’s all effort and heart.”

Coffeyville — a team on the rise last season after winning all three district games to make the playoffs — returns 1,000-yard rusher Wesley “Bo” Collins and 1,500-yard passer Cory Turner, both juniors this season who are capable of big plays. Collins ran for 687 yards the last four games of the season and Turner balanced 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

The Purple Dragons now have a week to be ready for Coffeyville next Friday on Hutchinson Field.

“We will be,” Nickelson said. “We had better play a heck of a lot better than we did tonight, but we will be ready.”