The Rocking M Media Football Media Tour gets started in Abilene. The Cowboys had an up and down 2018 campaign. They started last season 1-3, but would then reel off three victories in their final four games to earn an opening-round home playoff game. The Cowboys postseason visit would be short though as they lost 28-0 to Ulysses, a team they had beaten 26-21 the week before.
Abilene was hit hard by graduation. In all the they graduated 21 Seniors off of last year’s 4-5 team. However, the Cowboys will return 12 Seniors led by Kade Funston. Funston, a cousin to Chicago Bear Pro Bowl Center Cody Whitehair, is making his own mark with the Cowboy program. The 6’0’’ 238 Senior is a four year starter on the offensive line. He is also three year starter on the defensive line. He is the returning leading tackler from last season. He had 53 tackles and eight sacks in 2018. He earned All-NCKL Honors on both sides of the ball a year ago. Funston will be joined on the line by 6’ 200 Junior Karsen Loader who also started last year up front for Abilene.
The Cowboys also return experience at quarterback. Jackson Randles a 5’8” 165 Senior started every game last season. Randles passed for 472 yards and four touchdowns. He rushed for an additional 135 yards and three scores his Junior year.
Their will also be playmakers returning on the defensive side of the football for Abilene. Chrisxavier Cease a 6’0” 170 Senior registered 38 tackles and had three interceptions last season at Corner. Cease will move to free-safety and also see time at receiver this season for the Cowboys. The middle of the defense will be anchored by 5’11” 205 Senior Zach Juhl. He is a two year starter and totaled 39 tackles in 2018.
Abilene also will have experience at the head coaching position in Steve Simpson. He enters his 45th season coaching football and his 6th as head coach of the Cowboys. Coach Simpson has a record of 28-20 while at Abilene, which includes three league titles and a trip to the playoff quarterfinals in 2015.
For the second straight year Abilene will not be able to play a full NCKL schedule because of the classification shakeup last year. This is due to the Cowboys being the only 4A school in the NCKL. Abilene will still play league rivals, Clay Center, Concordia, and defending NCKL Champions Chapman in their first three games.
Abilene will have to be road warriors with only three of their eight games being played at home. Three of their road games are a great distance from the friendly confines of Cowboy Stadium, with two games being played at Augusta and another at Ulysses in the month of October. Abilene handled long road trips well last season with a victory over Pittsburg-Colgan at Towanda-Circle and a win at Coffeyville. Road success last season along with a strong Senior class has Abilene aiming for their first winning season since 2016.