KING CITY, Mo. — A year removed from an 8-4 season and a state sectional appearance, King City has undergone a remarkable roster shift.

With no juniors on the roster and just three seniors in Quaid Jones, Jacob Moen and Braden Gilbert, King City will lean on underclassmen as heavily as any team in the area.

Despite this, coach Micah Breckenridge feels he has reason to believe this team can overcome a lack of experience to avoid a drop off in performance.

“We bring back four starters, but we’re asking a lot of these young guys to step up,” Breckenridge said.

These young guys were undefeated in junior high, this freshman and sophomore class, so we’re looking for big things.”

“A lot of them have stepped up and shown us that they’re ready to play on Friday nights, so it’s a matter of getting them developed. I think they’re looking forward to getting back to where we were last year or farther.”

Among the biggest changes is last spring’s graduation of Collin Breckenridge, who has been a fixture on both sides of the ball since 2016 and last year made second team all-state as a quarterback.

Now starting sophomore Landon Wells under center, expects the Wildkats’ percentage of run to pass plays to fluctuate as the team attempts to acclimate the underclassman passer.

“We return two really good running backs, so we’re going to utilize the assets that we have and try to get those guys touches as often as we can,” Breckenridge said. “(Wells) has really progressed well but we’re not gonna push him into doing things he’s not comfortable doing. So it’s going to be a progression throughout this year and next year, but he’ll become a very efficient passer. We just don’t want to force things that we did last year just because we did things last year.”

Among the trio of seniors is linebacker and tight end Braden Gilbert, who possesses the rare quality of having varsity experience. He spoke on continuing the tradition of senior leadership, even with the team’s limited numbers.

“We’ve had a lot of good seniors come through, and they’ve always been good leaders,” Gilbert said. We had to pick a lot of it up last year because we knew it was going to be us three this year, so we’ve been trying to get used to it and show these guys the way and how to do things the way coaches want us to.”

He also expressed confidence in the defense, citing results in practice and performance in a summer football camp in Albany.

Senior Quaid Jones is a returning starter on the offensive and defensive lines, and in spite of the typical concerns that come with fielding such an inexperienced squad, he is looking forward to showing what the team can do.

“I’m feeling pretty good for this year. A lot of the younger kids don’t have a lot of experience, but I think they’re gonna do pretty good,” Jones said. “I’m excited. It’s getting kind of boring hitting our own team so much.”

King City opens the season at home at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30, against North Andrew.

Levi Smith can be reached

at levi.smith@newspressnow.com.

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