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Billy Butler bashes, Jeremy Guthrie battles as Royals beat Indians 7-5 -7/27/2014, 11:12 AM

Greyson Tempel guides West to Shrine Bowl win -7/27/2014, 11:10 AM

Detmer a big bat for Larks -7/27/2014, 4:35 PM

Herman falls in match play quarters -7/27/2014, 4:35 PM

Ellis baseball headed to AA state -7/26/2014, 3:50 PM

Wiggins signs contract -7/25/2014, 10:04 AM

Western Kansas athletes overcome long road to be in Shrine Bowl -7/25/2014, 10:20 AM

Aoki's walkoff single lifts Royals in 14th -7/25/2014, 10:03 AM

Larks cap league turnaround with win -7/24/2014, 10:23 AM

Herman moves on in match play -7/24/2014, 10:03 AM

Ellis to play for Zone title -7/24/2014, 1:26 PM

2014 Kansas Shrine Bowl rosters -7/24/2014, 1:29 PM

Jayhawk League standings, July 24 -7/24/2014, 10:34 AM

Jamaal Charles agrees to contract extension -7/24/2014, 10:38 AM

Ubelaker looks to make impact on Shrine Bowl -7/24/2014, 10:51 AM

Snyder hopes season carries over -7/24/2014, 10:33 AM

Herman, Hecker, Kaup advance at Kansas Am -7/24/2014, 10:13 AM

Larks get non-league win -7/23/2014, 1:29 PM

Golfer cards ace in Ellis -7/23/2014, 9:57 AM

Fisher hopes bigger is better -7/23/2014, 9:47 AM

Royals grab win in Chicago -7/23/2014, 10:42 AM

Overachievers set tone for KSU football -7/23/2014, 10:42 AM

Chiefs have had discussions with Charles -7/23/2014, 10:44 AM

Hays Eagles headed back to state -7/23/2014, 10:43 AM

Tuesday's Larks game called off -7/22/2014, 4:49 PM

K-18 state bracket, July 25 to 29 -7/22/2014, 10:46 AM

Royals' offense silenced again in loss to Chicago -7/22/2014, 10:25 AM

Monarchs' season comes to an end -7/22/2014, 10:19 AM

Larks win sixth straight -7/22/2014, 10:24 AM

No bold predictions from Charlie Weis at Big 12 Media Days -7/22/2014, 10:19 AM

Eagles rally for Zone win -7/22/2014, 10:25 AM

'One true champion' gets a workout in Big 12 -7/22/2014, 10:09 AM

K-State clarifies Klein's role -7/22/2014, 10:26 AM

Browns rookie Manziel leads in jerseys sold -7/22/2014, 10:09 AM

Royals get swept in Boston -7/21/2014, 10:10 AM

McIlroy claims Open title -7/21/2014, 10:10 AM

Monarchs fall to Larned in Zone tourney -7/21/2014, 10:10 AM

Larks wrap up second place -7/21/2014, 10:10 AM

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Prep basketball

Boys

Atwood 76, St. Francis 65

Dighton 62, Oberlin 47

Hillsboro 50, Goodland 47

Lakeside 42, Lincoln 32

Minneapolis 68, Russell 35

Rock Hills 42, Natoma 37

Salina Central 62, Andover 58

Salina South 62, Sacred Heart 47

Sharon Springs 75, Leoti 38

St. John's Beloit-Tipton 57, Osborne 34

Sylvan-Lucas 61, Thunder Ridge 48

Girls

Dighton 44, Atwood 11

Dodge City 71, Hays High 28

Hesston 51, Goodland 18

Hoisington 60, Victoria 46

Hoxie 65, St. Francis 13

Lincoln 33, Lakeside 26

Minneapolis 47, Otis-Bison 24

Osborne 59, Wilson 34

Sharon Springs 63, Oberlin 42

Sylvan-Lucas 43, Natoma 41 (ot)

Tescott 41, Rock Hills 33

Trego 56, Leoti 27

Thunder Ridge 33, St. John's Beloit-Tipton 30

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SPOTLIGHT
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Defending champion Eagles have entirely new roster -- almost

Published on -9/5/2013, 10:40 AM

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By NICK McQUEEN

nmcqueen@dailynews.net

En route to an undefeated Eight-Man Division I state championship, the Ness City High School football team dominated every team it faced in 2012.

The Eagles outscored opponents 639-70, and ended most games at least by the end of the third quarter, if not by halftime via the mercy rule.

There was one team, however, the Eagles never got the better of -- their scout team. Not officially, that is.

In order to get better, the Ness City juggernaut, which graduated all but one starter, had to work against someone every day in practice.

That's the group that will get to take their turn in the spotlight when the Eagles open their title-defending season Friday against Kinsley.

"I have been super-pleased with the mentality of the team," fourth-year Eagle coach Chris Bamberger said. "They know we've got a lot of work to do, but they've come to practice ready for that mentally."

The new Eagles roster boasts 10 seniors, but most rarely saw the field behind an elite group that included names like Dalton Gantz, Garrett Flax, Koltyn Ratliff and Blake McVicker, along with four other graduates. But, each day in practice, this No. 2 group worked against what turned out to be the best team in the state -- and arguably one of the most dominant in eight-man history.

"There were a lot of spots to fill, really some questions about the team," said senior Trevor Hawkins, the player with the most returning experience of the 10 seniors on this year's team. "We have a lot to prove, but I think we can do it.

"It's going to be tougher than last year, but it's something we're capable of."

The Eagles lost nearly all of their offense with Gantz, Ratliff and Flax, but do return junior running back Pedro Flores, who saw some time last year late in games (or first halves) when the games were out of reach. While Gantz and Flax rumbled for more than 2300 yards combined and 39 scores, Flores rushed for 426 in cleanup duty with six touchdowns.

"We're asking more of him back there," Bamberger said. "And he'll get more carries this year."

Junior Tanner McMillen takes the reigns at quarterback to replace Ratliff. McMillen played in five games, completing 3 of 7 passes for 37 yards and a score -- all late in games.

In addition, Bamberger said senior Dalton Garrison, junior Jacob Hoss and senior Morgan Flax will see some time in the run game.

The coach said at any point during the season, these guys could have stepped into roles on the field, and often did due to injuries. It just wasn't extensive time.

"From a self-confidence aspect they should know they got to go toe-to-toe with those guys every day in practice," Bamberger said. "That doesn't hurt when you're thinking 'What are we going to be capable of?' "  

The biggest question lies on defense, where Bamberger wasn't quite sure in preseason who would step into roles to replace guys like McVicker, the HDN Defensive Player of the Year who racked up 113 tackles (10 for loss) and 9.5 sacks.

"It's tough to say right now," Bamberger said. "I have my eye on a few kids we expect to go up and be playmakers."

Hawkins was an end and a big target last season for Ratliff. He caught a team-high 27 passes for 263 yards and a team-best seven TDs. He'll again be out on the end, but could do some shifting as well.

"The roles have been filled, and we've been doing a good job so far," Hawkins said.

Bamberger said his Eagles learned a great deal by watching the group in front of them mature into a state-title team, and not just on the field.

"It's not all just X's and O's," said Bamberger, who is 26-7 in his previous three seasons.

"They've leraned a lot of things about how to conduct themselves in practice and how to conduct themselves in school.

"And how to just bring a good attitude. They're hungry to learn and they're hungry to get better."

The Eagles again play in a tough district that includes last season's district runner-up Hoxie and Atwood-Rawlins County, a Buffalo team that returns every single player from a team that started 7-0 before its loss to Ness City.

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