HERINGTON – A veteran head coach, who had previously been named head football coach at Herington for a short time, is back in charge of the Railers. Justin Hurley officially begins his first season at Herington High School this year.
Originally hired as head coach in 2012, Hurley had to back away due to family issues that needed his full attention. Since then he has served as the headman at Oswego and Marmaton Valley.
Hurley begins his 19th year in the classroom this year. He comes to Herington after spending some time at Topeka-Highland Park. He has family that lives in Buhler and when the Herington position came open again with the resignation of Tom Flax, Hurley jumped at the opportunity for the second time.
“With my kids living in Buhler, I have been keeping an eye on head football coaching jobs in this area,” he said. “When the Railer job opened, I knew I wanted to come back.”
Hurley believes his first class of Railers will be competitive.
“We will be young,” he said. “But, I think we will compete pretty well. Our expectations have changed and our kids have done a really good job adjusting to them. We will be really young with only two seniors returning.”
Seniors Kayland Alexander and Brody Brown are projected to the leaders of the 2019 team. Alexander, 5-10, 165 has played receiver or tight end on offense where he caught five touchdown passes last year while gaining 386 yards. On defense at linebacker he had 45 tackles.
Brown, 5-10, 180, saw action at running back a year ago scoring once and gaining 125 yards. From his linebacker position on defense, he gathered in 60 tackles of which four were for loss. He recorded one sack; two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Also due back from the 3-6 2018 team will be junior offensive lineman Kevin Gehrke and junior athlete Matt Anschutz along with sophomore running back Easton Idleman. Gehrke was first team All-League in the Wheat State League last year and defensively he grabbed 52 tackles from his d-line position. Anschutz gained yards running, throwing and catching the ball last year and played defensive back. He was able to make 61 tackles and have three pass breakups with an interception.
Idleman returns after an Honorable Mention freshman in the backfield. He had 1,210 all-purpose yards and scored 16 touchdowns. On defense at linebacker, the 5-9, 165 athlete had 12 tackles and an interception at linebacker.
After a successful camp season and about 80 percent compliance in the weight room during the summer, Hurley is excited for the season to begin.
“The key to our season will be how quickly our kids respond to our expectations and how they pick up our new concepts and terminology,” the coach said. “We will be more physical than last year and will be better tacklers. Our goal is just like any other team, we want to win league, win district and make the playoffs and advance. I feel if our kids buy in, we will have a great opportunity to do that.”
Competition in the Wheat State League will be as tough challenge for the young Railers as they will face perennial powers Canton-Galva and Solomon.
Herington opens the 2019 season on the road at Chase County, a team they beat a year ago 36-34.
Sept 6 at Chase County
Sept 13 at Centre – Lost Springs
Sept 20 vs. Rural Vista
Sept 27 vs. Peabody Burns
Oct 4 at Goessel
Oct 11 vs. Solomon
Oct 18 vs. Bennington
Oct 25 at Canton-Galva