Pictured Above is Abilene Head Coach Brad Nicks
Abilene Head Football Coach, Brad Nick’s Cowboy program will look to take a huge step forward in the 2022 season. It has been tough from the start for Nicks. He took over, in the spring of 2020, for a program that went 0-9 in 2019. He was not fully able to work-out with his players before his first season because of Covid. Abilene went 0-6 that first year and the Cowboys missed out on three games because of Covid issues. Last year, Abilene invested in the future as they started multiple underclassmen in critical positions and the Cowboys finished 0-9 to run their losing streak to 25 games.
There is optimism though with many returners back from last season. Many of those same kids contributed to State basketball and State baseball teams last school year. The Cowboy basketball program, coached by Erik Graefe made it to State for a second straight season, while the Cowboy baseball program, coached by Travis Bartley made it to State for the first time this year in school history.
The biggest story this offseason is the addition of Mark Willey to the coaching staff. Willey is a 1988 graduate of AHS and is considered one of the greatest athletes in school history. Willey had spent the previous 22 years as the 8th grade coach at AMS. During that span the Longhorns were 111-31, won 8 league titles, and finished with 4 undefeated seasons. Willey will be calling the plays for the Cowboys this season.
Abilene, has 8 Seniors out for football this season. The Cowboys though, are hoping that some of their young talent starts to come through. The J.V. went 5-3 last season and the current Freshman went 7-0 as 8th graders last year. That class has won back-to-back NCKL titles in middle school. Abilene returns 6 starters on offense including their entire backfield and receiver Brax Fisher.
The offense is led by Junior Quarterback, Stocton Timbrook. Timbrook was 80-179 (45%) for 1,123 yards with 10 touchdowns last season, despite not playing the final three games. Timbrook will be joined in the backfield by fellow Juniors Zach Miller and Keaton Hargrave. Miller rushed for 258 yards and a touchdown, he also caught 15 passes for 103 yards. Hargrave rushed for 98 yards and caught 13 passes for 67 yards. Fisher, a Junior, was second on the team in receiving with 21 catches for 385 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Cowboys graduated their top receiver, statistically, in Cooper Wildey and one of their top all-around athletes in Kaleb Becker, who had a storied athletic career at AHS. Becker was the Cowboy’s only All-NCKL selection last season as an at-large selection. The Cowboys will rely on Sophomore, Weston Rock and Freshman, Taygen Funston to round out the receiving core. Rock saw the field last season as a Freshman at running back. Funston, a cousin to Chicago Bear, Cody Whitehair, played quarterback throughout middle school for teams that lost just one game over two seasons.
Abilene’s success will hinge on the play of their offensive and defensive lines. The Cowboys will return two offensive lineman from last season in Senior Guard, Richard Ortiz and Senior Center, Tristan Randles. According to Cowboy Head Coach Brad Nicks, the line is stronger this season. Abilene looks to improve on their offensive numbers from last season where they averaged 212 total yards per game and 11.7 points per game.
The 2022 Cowboy football schedule will look a little different this season. Abilene will play a full NCKL schedule for the first time since 2017 with the addition of Marysville. The Cowboys were unable to play all their league opponents since most of the league is 3A and was locked into 6 team districts. Wamego is the only other 4A football member in the league.
Abilene also added Rose Hill and Towanda-Circle to the schedule. Gone from the schedule this season is Christ Prep, Hays and Ulysses.
2022 Abilene High School Football Schedule
September 2: Marysville
September 9: at Concordia
September 16: at Clay Center
September 23: Chapman
September 30: Rose Hill
October 7: at Towanda-Circle
October 14: Augusta
October 21: at Wamego