The Colman-Egan Hawks won their fourth state championship on the gridiron last season, rolling past Herried-Selby 58-6 in the 9B championship game.
This year, Colman-Egan has four returning starters on both sides of the ball. Returning starters on offense include seniors Ryker Hawkins (FB), Ryan Voelker (WR) and Wyatt Bush (WR), along with junior Kelby Voelker (center). Bush might move to quarterback this season for the Hawks.
"The biggest key to our success will be if the players can accomplish their assignments on a weekly basis," said Colman-Egan Coach Chad Williamson. "There are many players in very key positions that will have to prove themselves this year."
Returning on the defensive side of the ball are seniors Hawkins (LB), R. Voelker (corner back), Noah Anderson (nose guard) and Cole Hannasch (corner back).
Other players who could see time in the Hawks' lineup are seniors Weston Miles (WR/LB), Skyler Anderson (OL/NG) and Trey Costine (OL/DL); juniors Austin Gullickson (FB/LB) and Dawson Tolley (RB/DE); and sophomores Tanner Anderson (OL/DL), Ben Zwart (TE/DE), Easton Williamson (WR/DB) and Logan Voelker (WR/DB).
"We will have a very upperclassman-dominated roster this season," Williamson said. "They have worked very hard to reach the standard of excellence that is expected, and they know it is their job to continue that throughout the season."
Colman-Egan went through the 2019 season unbeaten at 12-0 and outscored their opponents 601-80.
Colman-Egan lost six key players to graduation: Dalton Voelker, Nate Tolley, Eli Bowen, Ty Hiller, Chase Hemmer and Cole Tolley.
"It is very difficult to replace a senior class like our program had in 2019, but if our players commit to the program, we should be successful," Williamson said. "Our program has many players who have not had much Friday night action the last few years that will need to fill many key positions."
According to Williamson, all of the teams in the Dakota Valley Conference will present challenges to Colman-Egan. However, DeSmet and Dell Rapids St. Mary may present the most challenges this season.
"Based off of last season and returning players, Wolsey-Wessington and Dell Rapids St. Mary look to be two of the top 9B programs this season," he said.
Assisting Williamson this season are Jeremy Crisp and Tyler Husby.
Colman-Egan will go to Centerville on Friday for a 7 p.m. game with the Tornadoes. The first home game for the Hawks will be Aug. 28 against Gayville-Volin.