Triad might have an early season question mark at quarterback, but the Knights anticipate business as usual from their backfield.
The Knights finished 6-4 last season, losing to Taylorville in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. Senior tailbacks Adam Nelson and Steven Evanoff, who combined to rush for nearly 1,300 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, will return, and Triad also returns most of its defense.
Led by Nelson (958 yards, 10 TDs) and Evanoff (331 yards, four TDs), the Knights again will be formidable on the ground.
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Bassler spent the preseason looking for a quarterback to replace Alex Crehan (1,071 yards, 16 TDs) and a fullback to step in for Josiah Pottorff (760 yards, four TDs), both of whom graduated.
Junior Tommy Bauer was the preseason front-runner to take over at quarterback, with competition coming from junior Aaron Miller and sophomore Cody Qualls.
Senior Gage Ozee, who didn’t play last season after undergoing knee surgery, has returned to a line that will be led by senior Zach Mathenia.
Nelson, junior Jake O’Dell and senior Jordan Carder are the top receiving threats.
All but two starters return on the defense, which will be led by senior linebackers Nate Funk (92 tackles) and John McKinney (88 tackles), junior linebacker Ethan Salopek (95 tackles, seven sacks) and senior tackle Clayton Nickerson (82 tackles, five sacks).
Others returning on defense include senior safety Cole Witzig (49 tackles), junior safety Will Zehnder (44 tackles), junior cornerback Jaron Pino (42 tackles), senior tackles Matt Sarhage, Dustin Wilson and Ray Popkess (five sacks), senior cornerback Sawyer Lawson and sophomore cornerback Nick King.
— David Wilhelm
at Mount Vernon