With new faces taking the helm as Clinton Prairie’s varsity leaders, the Hot Dogs settling in with a new face at the helm as both Clinton County teams prepare to pick up where they left off last year and wreak havoc amongst opposing defenses.
After a semifinal exit in sectionals last season, Clinton Prairie is ready to get back to winning ways this season but will look different doing it as they move on from a trio of seniors from a year ago that played a major role in the Gopher’s success.
However, that doesn’t mean Clinton Prairie will be devout of talent as head coach Chad Peckinpaugh is excited to get the ball rolling with a group that he believes will fill the open roles left by graduating Gophers.
“I think a good way probably to describe us is young,” Peckinpaugh said. “I like who we have, I like our pieces. It’s just a matter now of trying to get those guys to develop and putting those pieces together.”
As a team, Clinton Prairie finished the season 20-5 last year and did so primarily by giving opposing offenses trouble when they held teams to 39 points a game.
With a senior group made up of starters from a year ago, Jonas Knipp along with Ty Kirkpatrick and Derek McDonald, the Gophers rotation will also be bolstered by Jake McGraw who looks to build off of an impressive freshman season from a year ago.
Clinton Prairie also brings back starting big from a year ago Cayden Davis but with players returning from a year in which many received vital varsity experience, Peckinpaugh is eager to see his group take on bigger roles.
“They’re going to have to expand what they did. They kind of played a little bit of a secondary role to some of those guys and now they’re going to be in the forefront and asked to do more things consistently,” Peckinpaugh said.
The Gophers host Frankfort in their home opener on November 23.
Equipped with a coach that holds plenty of experience with leading winning teams along with a young, budding roster and Frankfort’s varsity boys basketball team is primed to make some noise this season after a 10-13 year ended in the sectional semifinals last season.
While first year head coach of Frankfort, Dave McCollough hasn’t had much time to get acclimated with his new team, first impressions have shown him that this group of Hot Dogs is eager to stack up wins by any means necessary.
“It seems apparent to me that they’re interested in learning and interested in wanting to win,” McCollough said. “I don’t think they’re afraid of hard work. I think they’re trying to pick up on what we’re trying to show them and I think they want to do a really good job and succeed.”
As Frankfort’s leading scorer in Riley Goodnight graduated a year ago, junior Jayce Strode is ready to step into one of the prime roles on offense after averaging nearly 15 points and six boards last season.
To compliment Strode’s presence on the inside, Kye Kirby and Doug Wood return for their junior campaigns as well after combining for over 15 points a game last season.
While Frankfort has an entire season to grow and improve, McCollough believes that between their toughness and unselfish play the Hot Dogs can grow into a formidable product on the hardwood.
“There are times that they impress me with toughness and I see some spurts where they do a nice job of sharing the basketball. … They’ve shown us that they can do it and know how to do it, now we’re just looking for them to do it on a consistent effort,” he said.
Frankfort opens their season on the road at county rival Clinton Prairie on November 23 and will have to wait to host its home opener on December 9 against Sagamore Conference foe Tri-West.