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By David Sharp
Highland first year head football Coach Caleb Arnsman greeted 38 varsity and JV football players for their 2022 campaign. The Cougars are coming off one of their best all-around football seasons.
Highland finished an 8-3 season with a loss to eventual 2021 Class 1 runner up Marceline on the final play of their district game. The Cougars made several critical mistakes near halftime that played a large part in the outcome.
Highland graduated a talented senior class including running back and linebacker Robert Goehl, who is currently playing football for Truman State University. Drew Mallett signed a National Letter of Intent to run track at Culver-Stockton University.
Former Head football coach David De Garmo stepped down to take an administrative position in the Highland school district.
Highland has 12 seniors out for football. Devin Stutsman, Shon Stark, Gage Dawson, Aiden Lay, Will Goings, and Isaiah Strub are returning senior starters. The Cougars have nine juniors, 14 Sophomores and three freshmen on their current roster.
“This is my sixth year here,” Caleb Arnsman said. “Being part of the rebuilding process and rising up to here is a ride I wouldn’t trade for the world. I just want to keep the program moving forward.”
“Losing that last game is eating at a lot of these guys. They know we had the means to win that and we let it slip through our fingers,” Coach Arnsman said. “That is our main motivation, because that is where we want to get back to. We have enough talent to get back and hopefully win a district championship.”
The Cougars return the most proven talent along the offensive and defensive line. Toby O’Brien, a 6’2” 220lb Senior mans the offensive left tackle position. 250 pound Senior Shon Stark is the offensive right tackle.
“Our O Line is going to be the cornerstone of our offense,” Caleb Arnsman said. “We return four of our five starters. We are big up front. We are fast and physical. That’s going to play huge into our run game.”
“Toby O’Brien is a three year starter. He is a huge senior leader,” Arnsman said. “Having a healthy Shon Stark is going to be huge for us. He is hard to move. He has got some speed. It’s kind of scary.”
Sophomore Jace Hedges and Junior Cooper Bliven were named preseason starting guards. Junior Brayden Logsdon takes over from Drew Mallett at quarterback. Logsdon returns from a productive 2021.
“He is making the transition from wide receiver to quarterback this year,” Caleb Arnsman said of Brayden Logsdon. “Being a receiver and knowing the routes has made the transition easier for him.”
“That has given him a head start on the learning curve. Now it’s just reading coverages. He is a smart individual. He can get out there and learn the offense really well,” Coach Arnsman said of Braydon Logsdon.
Devin Stutsman, Brady Campen, Will Goings and Gage Dawson were named starting receivers in the 2×2 spread offense. Alex Oenning, Will Goings, Zander Johnson and David Geisendorfer will man the running back position.
The Cougars will use a multiple defense. Zander Johnson, Bradley Renier, Shon Stark and Toby O’Brien were named defensive linemen. Linebackers Alex oenning, Will Goings, Isaiah Strub and Devin Stutsman will play linebacker.
Brady Campen, Braydon Logsdon and Gage Dawson will see time as defensive backs.
Highland will kick off their 2022 varsity football schedule with Putnam County at Highland Cougar Field on August 26, 2022 at 7PM. The Cougars will travel to Scotland County for week two on Friday, September 2.
Macon, Centralia, Palmyra and Monroe City have drawn mention as top football teams in the Clarence Cannon Conference this season. Clark County should be an improved football team.
“We have confidence in our quarterback’s ability to throw the football and in our receivers to catch it,” Caleb Arnsman said. “I played lineman. I love to run the ball. We have four running backs that can run the ball really well. Alex Oenning is probably going to take the majority of our carries.”
“He is a shifty little running back. All of our running backs have different acumens to their game,” Coach Arnsman said. “We are going to be throwing the ball and running the ball like we were last year.”
“That’s our game, and that’s what we are going to do.”