The young talent that has led the Strafford Indians for years looks to capitalize on last year’s winning season with the return of 11 starters.
“Our numbers are small, but we have a lot of weapons,” said long-time head coach Tim Hester on the upcoming season. “We must stay healthy this year to compete.”
Hester has been leading the Indians to victory for 22 years, 16 of those years as the school's head coach. Boasting a 107-66 record, all at Strafford, Hester has high hopes for his young group after seeing steady improvement from core pieces over the last several years.
The core of the offense begins with Silas Morton and Jourdyn Edelstein.
“Silas has been a starter all 3 years. He’s been an impact player as a running back, quarterback, wide receiver, linebacker, free safety, strong safety, and corner. Impact is an understatement when it comes to Silas,” said Coach Hester. “He’s only improved in the off-season. He went to state for 4x1 relay in track and it improved his speed, agility, and most importantly, his confidence.”
Morton made the Mid-Lakes All-Conference First Team by unanimous decision last year as a defensive back and athlete, along with All-Conference Second Team as a running back. He would go on to receive All Region 2nd Team as a defensive back, All-Region Third Team as a running back, and the MFCA All-District team as a running back.
Morton will be working hand in hand with QB Edelstein.
“Jourdyn returns after two years of starts. He’s quickly developed into a top quarterback in the area,” added Coach Hester. “The game has slowed down for him, which in turn has led to better decisions on the field.”
Edelstein, a junior, was picked for the Mid-Lakes All-Conference Second Team last year as a quarterback, along with the All-Region Third Team at the same position. Edelstein will rely on Kingston Campbell, the 6’4” 240lb lineman who continues to shock opponents with his speed and efficiency.
Strafford lost two wide receivers from last year, including Elliot Going, who now plays at Evangel. Bradlee Mullins comes in as the projected top receiver. Ryker Vendosel also returns this year as a top leader in the field and tight end.
“We had five sophomores who got significant playing time on the varsity level last year,” said Hester. “Our offense will be experienced at every position. We’ll see young, but with a strong junior and senior class, we will make that up in no time.”
Defensively, the Indians will be led by linebackers Silas Morton and Ryder Ross after losing 4 seniors on that defensive end.
“Returning starters Lorenso Mondragon and Bradley Ripp will help set the tone on defense as well,” added Hester. “In front of them will be returning d-liners Ryker Venosdel and JD Adams. Kingston Campbell and Jacob Russell will help bolster our line too. Our secondary will be anchored by Jourdyn Edelstein and Cody Voysey, with Amren King stepping up to several positions that he has played over the last two years.”
The Indians will host Liberty on Friday, Aug. 15 for the first game of the season, followed by Ava on Sept. 1.
“Ava has been a powerhouse for years,” Hester stated. “Over these years, we’ve struggled to compete, but beating Ava twice last season was a huge accomplishment.”
On the field alongside Coach Hester this season are assistant coaches Greg Baker, Cleave Perryman, Dalton Taylor, Justin Breedlove, Korry Tillery, Jason Lexa, Eric Rogers, and Curtis Williams.
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