The last few season have been rough for the Kansas football program, with wins tough to find.
But things may change this season, as optimism grows with a new skipper leading the season.
“Our expectations for the team for the year is to get better with each game, to be better than we were the previous Friday each week,” said first year Kansas Head Coach Jimmy Dushane. “If we can take care of that that can equate into some wins. If we can make the kids better each week I feel we have accomplished our goal.”
Dushane takes the helm of the Comets this season after three-year veteran Steve Patterson who left to take a job in southwest Missouri.
“With me taking over the team I am at a benefit because I know the kids and where they have played," Dushane said. "I don’t know if there is a whole lot different approach than what he did and what I am going to do.
"Just maybe in the planning of practices and stuff like that. It may be a little different."
Dushane believes the program is just a few breaks away from turning it around.
"The last two years we have been so close to turn the corner," Dushane said. "We have had this go wrong or that go wrong. If we can get a break here or there and they are positive breaks and not negative breaks. We were just right there several times.
“If we can get across that line and get a win, I think the kids will get that feeling and I think they can make it happen more. I am pretty optimistic that we might be able to fight for that third of fourth spot in the district.”
The 2017 schedule, Dushane said, is a bit tough for his Comets.
“We are playing in one of the toughest districts in Class 2A," Dushane said. "We have two private schools and Salina is on an upswing right now.
"Ketchum is a proven commodity. They proved the last couple of years that they can win games. Chouteau has had the same coach for several years and they keep getting better each year under him. It makes for a tough district and some tough games.
Dushane believes the team's non-district slate is also challenging.
“We play Oklahoma Union who had one of their best teams this last year in a while," he said. "Week two we play Wyandotte, who year in and year out are pretty competitive. Then we play Westville they are going to be a good team like they always are,
"We will have to go out and play each week. There are some games there that are winnable but some if we are not ready we will get beaten easily. We will just have to be ready to play each week.”
Looking to his team
When talking about his team, Dushane starts with his offense backfield which has some strong competition among players.
“Both our running backs that are competing," Dushane said about senior Aaron Reeder and junior Daris Glass. “Both of them are accomplished running backs and tough runners if they can find a seem they are going to make big games.
"They both work hard and they have important roles. I think both of them will get a lot of playing time in games."
Dushane has three players competing for the starting fullback job including senior Jerry Cochran, junior Ethan Vaughan and sophomore Will Houston.
Quarterback will be Austin and Christian Glass, who Dushane said are both improving each day.
"We are giving the both reps and trying to figure out who will be our starter," Dushane said. "It may be one of those of quarterback by committee. We are looking at that at quarterback."
At wide receiver the Comets have juniors Keelan Davis, Chance Kolysko and Brett Morikowa. Freshman Easton Wiggins will also be in the rotation.
“All four of them can catch the ball and run," Dushane said. "They give us great speed on the edge to help us out."
Starting on the offensive line will be seniors Dustin Campbell and Kade Moore, both with three years of experience.
Other returning starters include sophomore Jacob Jones and junior Hayden Evans, as well as juniors Yeng Lee, Zach Lamont and senior Christian Kaiser who will see action on the offensive line.
"Lee is strong young man who will get a lot of playing time," Dushane said. "Lamont will figure into that line somewhere while Kaiser has shown a lot of improvement."
Four players are in the running for the tight end position for the Comets: juniors Blaine Pickup and Josh Hix, along with sophomores Jager Pifer and Jake Morgan.
“These four young men are getting reps there everyday," Dushane said. "Hopefully out of those four we can find one or two or more to go with.
"We can set them out on the edge and flex them out a little bit put some defenses in a bind. Instead of just having four little receivers out there we can put one bigger guy out there that can create a mismatch on coverage."
Dushane said a perfect scenario for the Comets includes players having the ability to play on offense and defense.
“When you play small Class 2A football you are going to play some of the same kids both ways," Dushane said. "If we can we are going to change kids up. They might not start on offense but start on defense or visa versa.
"When we can we will pull some of those kids not starting on offense and play them on defense. Instead of having just 11 starters we can have 18 or 19 kids that are playing and not as many kids doubling up. Hopefully we can get more kids on the field. We can rest kids and not have to have them playing both ways."
But in the end Dushane believes hard work will remain key for his team, to see a different result at the end of the season.
“The district we are in, I think everyone but Holland Hall and Victory Christian are fighting for third and fourth place," Dushane said. "But I think if we improve each week we could finish in one of those spots and not only win some ball games but have a chance at a playoff spot."