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Eight-Man I state football preview: Little River vs. Leoti

By Blake Chadwick

8-Man I

Who: Little River (10-2) vs. Leoti (12-0)

When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: Fischer Field, Newton

Little River Redskins

Coach: Kevin Ayers

  • Key Players
    • ATH Jayden Garrison 60, 170, Sr. (2,194 all-purpose yards and 52 total touchdowns and 78 total tackles)
    • RB-LB Graham Stephens 5-9, 195, Sr. (1,236 all-purpose yards and 121 total tackles)
    • C-DE Kaden Schafer 5-10, 220, Jr. 
    • TE-LB Braxton Lafferty 5-11, 170, So. (73 total tackles)
    • TE-DE Grant Stephens 5-10, 170, So. (66 total tackles) 

What makes your team special?

“We are a tight group that plays for each other. We have faced a lot of adversity and have grown from it. Our two losses have made us better and more resilient.”

Who have been key players for you this season?

“We have some outstanding players that do the dirty work. Our offensive line of Kaden Schafer, Carter Hollowy and Kyle Bruce have really improved. Our WR crew of Trey Rolfs, Keaton Richardson and Braden Young do a great job blocking on the edge.”

Have any players been a surprise?

“We have had multiple players surprise us. We have a lot of underclassmen making big contributions — sophomores Braden Young WR/DB, Grant Stephens TE/DE, Braxton Lafferty LB/TE, have played well.”

What got your team into the state championship game?

“We had two early-season losses that forced us to dig deep and get better.  Our team chemistry has gotten better and our players believe in and play for each other.”

What does your team need to do in order to win the state championship game?

“Offense: Limit negative plays, get our playmakers in space, our offensive line must play physical and finish blocks and we must block well on the edge.  As always taking care of the football will be huge.  They are very good at creating turnovers.

“Defense:  We have to tackle well and get a lot of people to the ball. (Leoti) has so many weapons. We have to rise to the occasion at every position. We will be undersized at a lot of positions. We have to get off blocks and use our quickness. Cannot give up the big play. We must make them complete drives and be stingy on 2 point conversions.

“Our team chemistry is what sets apart. These boys play for each other. We are not a big team and we are young at some positions, but the players rally around one another to get the job done. We have faced a lot of adversity this year. We’ve played a tough schedule and lost two games, which has only made us better. The kids have overcome and believe in each other.”


Leoti Indians

Coach: Brant Douglas

  • Key Players 

QB Kayde Rietzke 5-9, 165, Sr. (113 for 161 passing, 1,655 passing yards, 33 TDs, 1,270 rushing yards, 23 TDs)

RB Jesse Gardner 5-7, 170, Sr. (112 carries, 941 rushing yards, 14 TDs)

TE-S Sheldon Whalen 6-0, 155, Sr. (21 receptions, 801 yards, 21 TDs)

TE-DE Manny Chavez 6-1, 220, Sr. (34 receptions, 490 yards, 7 TDs, 43 tackles, 18 TFLs)

TE Kendrix Loy 6-0, 220, Sr. (39 tackles, 14 TFLs)

TE-LB Waylon West 5-10, 160, Sr. (74 tackles, 5 TFLs)


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