Motivated Columbus squad enters season with high expectations

The Titans are 16-3 the last two years.

COLUMBUS, Kan. -The Columbus Titans are 16-3 the last two years – but they still have a chip on their shoulder.

“Our kids are still really hungry,” says head coach Blake Burns, “The season didn’t end like we wanted it to last year. It had a great beginning. We won a district title for the first time in several years, but we’re still hungry for more.”

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The 2020 season came to a disappointing end – with the undefeated Titans falling to Girard in the first round of the playoffs.

“I didn’t stop thinking about that loss until about two weeks after,” says senior QB Jaxson Haraughty, “It hurt, but it was good for us in the long run.”

“That last game is going to haunt me for a while,” says senior OL/DL Kody Schalk, “I’m going to use it as motivation, and just get better and better throughout the year.”

“We talked about learning from our mistakes,” Burns says of his message to the team after last season’s finale, “We failed. We just have to know that we have to do some things different to be better, and it’s kind of driven us to have a different mindset.”

This year’s team is loaded with talent.

Offensively, Columbus is led by returning starting quarterback Jaxson Haraughty and running back Gabe Martin – who rushed for 1,200+ yards and 17 touchdowns last year.

“We’re going to run the ball. I can use my legs, and you know what Gabe can do. Everybody knows what he can do,” Haraughty says, “We have some dogs on our offensive line. They can move some bodies around. We can still get it done through the air, though. We have guys like Cole Minor and Landin Midgett. They can catch any ball you throw up to them. I have a lot of trust in them when I throw it.”

“Our offensive identity is always going to be on our offensive line first,” Burns says, “They’re the first guys to the part all the time. We’ve got to establish the run game. Jaxson has done a fantastic job leading our offense. We’re just going to go as our offensive line goes.”

On defense, the team returns their leading tackler in linebacker Trent Smith and defensive lineman Kody Schalk. Both of those guys were 1st team All-CNC picks last season, and Schalk has multiple offers to play in the MIAA next season, including from Pittsburg State and Missouri Southern.

“We’re really confident on defense. That’s where we really stand out,” Schalk says, “It’s a mentality of all gas, no brakes. That’s the mentality we have on defense. I’m really proud of everyone up front and everyone behind us. We’re just going to work harder and harder and show everyone what we can do.”

Columbus opens the season on September 3rd, on the road against Frontenac.