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About

Class 5A East

Independent

School Colors: Purple and White

Head Coach: Tom Nickelson (65-32, 11th season)

Assistant coaches: Leroy O’Bray (DC), Matt Butler (OC), Matt Vaughn (OL), Trevor Elliott (OL), Andrew Brennon (WR), AJ Terry (LB), Jose Speer (DT), Kip Whitely (DB) and Garrett Wilson (DE)

COACH NICKELSON SAYS:

“Our running game should be much improved, with both running backs returning along with three starters on the offensive line. We return seven starters on each side of the ball, so we are expecting much more consistent play on both offense and defense.”

Five Year Trend (Playoffs)

  • 2020: 4-5 (Regionals)
  • 2019: 4-5 (First Round)
  • 2018: 8-2 (Regionals)
  • 2017: 8-3 (Sectionals)
  • 2016: 5-4 (First Round)

2020 REVIEW

Pittsburg finished with a 4-5 record in the games they played last season. They were solid. They were in almost every game they lost, with the Kapaun Mt. Carmel game (L, 49-0) being the lone exception. “The best part of last season was just the fact that our seniors got to play their final season,” says head coach Tom Nickelson, “At times it was frustrating, but we got our games in. Dealing with the uncertainties of playing football during a pandemic was easily the biggest challenge.”

RETURNING STARTERS (2020 stats)

RB Caiden Barber (Sr) 5’11”, 190 lb

RB/LB Grant Roelfs (Sr) 5’9″, 185 lb

QB Cooper Hayden (Sr) 6’1″, 185 lb

TE/DL Tyler Sutton (Sr) 5’10”, 205 lb

OL Gaven Deal (Sr) 6’3″, 305 lb

OL Cale Farrington (Sr) 6’2″, 215 lb

OL Chris Nickelson (Sr) 5’10”, 220 lb

DB Matt Smith (Sr) 5’8″, 185 lb

DB Austin McKechnie (Sr) 6’0″, 160 lb

LB Jonah Hunziker (Sr) 5’11”, 180 lb

LB Andrew O’Doherty (Sr) 5’10”, 185 lb

DL Michael Fernandez (Jr) 6’1″, 290 lb

OTHER KEY RETURNERS

WR Braden Benson (Sr) 6’0″, 175 lb

WRDB Ian Sullivan (Sr) 5’9″, 150 lb

DE Brock Bowman (Sr) 6’1″, 170 lb

TE/DE Jerrick Meadows (Sr) 6’2″, 180 lb

LB Brandon Freeman (Sr) 5’8″, 180 lb

TE/DE Blaine Dunstan (Sr) 6’0″, 165 lb

DE Timmy Weller (Sr) 5’9″, 175 lb

KEY NEWCOMERS

TE/DE Jackson Turnbull (Jr) 6’4″, 220 lb

SCHEDULE:

9/3 @ Labette County

9/10 vs. Chanute

9/17 vs. Washburn-Rural

9/24 @ Fort Scott

10/1 vs. Wichita South

10/8 @ Lansing

10/15 @KC-Wyandotte

10/22 vs. Basehor-Linwood

2021 SEASON OUTLOOK

Pittsburg has a nice senior class, and some really talented athletes. “All of our seniors will be expected to lead by example on and off the field,” says head coach Tom Nickelson. If you’ve ever seen Caiden Barber in person, you remember him. Barber running behind this experienced line has a chance to post some big numbers. Pittsburg also has its quarterback in Cooper Hayden returning. I expect them to get off to a hot start. I think this team will be better. I’m also excited to see Jackson Turnbull get reps at tight end and on the defensive line. Watching him on the basketball court and on the baseball field, he’s a big and strong athlete with potential to get even better. “Our expectations this year are the same as every year,” coach Nickelson says, “We want to get better every day, and play for our community, school and our teammates. I expect us to do the little things correctly, respect our opponents and play hard.” I’m honestly intrigued by this team. They have some pieces and they have some tough kids. I don’t have a real feel on how good they’re going to be, but I know I want to watch them.