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Going into the season, Comanche coach Steve Justus thought he had a playoff team, but instead injuries decimated the roster, leading to a losing season.
It wouldn’t have been out of place had the Indians (3-7, 2-5) made the playoffs. They were gunning for three straight years of postseason appearances, but getting two wins in their final three games proved difficult. A large part of that was the younger players, who were forced into significant roles because of injury, Justus said.
“We did get a lot of young kids that got a lot playing experience and that’s always a plus,” he said. “However, wins are a plus.”
The team didn’t fall too short of its goal. It finished fifth in a division that was top heavy — the top three teams were a combined 20-7. Frederick claimed the final spot in the postseason as the fourth-place team with a 4-6 record. With some help, Justus thought his team could have made it.
“With some kids not being injured and a few other things happening, we really felt like we had an opportunity there,” Justus said.
That’s in the past. Next year, Comanche moves up from Class 2A to 3A. Justus is aware of how that step might affect his team. He’s hoping that the work the players do in the offseason will prepare them to make that jump. While the level of difficulty the jump in classes will add is uncertain, Justus hopes his kids will respond well to the challenge.
“There’s always fear of the unknown in about anything you do, and since we haven’t been there, it’s hard to say how hard that jump’s going to be,” Justus said. “Your kids are going to have to be dedicated to do the things it takes to try and be good, to give yourself a chance.”
Two offensive leaders, seniors Cody Crow and Hunter Rice, depart. Justus knew before the season they would both play vital roles in the team’s success, but freshman Ryan Aker’s play was a bit of a surprise.
“In some games where we played some unbelievably good competition, he didn’t have outstanding numbers, but he helped us to have a run game,” Justus said.