Pleasant Ridge football team hopes returning starters on offensive line can help young quarterback

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Senior wide receiver Devin Stutz takes a handoff from sophomore quarterback Cooper Beying during Pleasant Ridge's football practice.

While it may Logan Fritz's second year as the head football coach at Pleasant Ridge, he and his assistants like to jokingly insist that this year is their first season. That is mainly because Fritz and his coaches were heavily affected by the shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fritz took the job in early 2020 before the shutdowns began and was not able to meet his team until June 8. The Rams were unable to go to any camps or compete in any 7-on-7 tournaments. Fritz said those situations were frustrating in terms of being able to evaluate talent but this offseason has been much more productive.

"To be able to do that this year has been nice," Fritz said. "We've gone to a couple of contact camps, like I keep saying, being able to throw every night that we have weights has been really nice as well. Those guys have been able to do that and just really grow a lot."

The Rams are coming off a 2-5 season, which included missing two weeks in September due to COVID-19 complications. They will have to replace three of their top offensive weapons in quarterback Connor Gibson, running back Jake Heckman, and wide receiver Chase Wohlgemuth.

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Fritz said sophomore Cooper Beying won the starting quarterback job over the summer and will bring a running element to the position. He said he generally runs a more pass-heavy offense and the opportunity to mix in Beying's ground game is exciting. 

"In my eight years of coaching football, I've never had a true running quarterback," he said. "So I'm excited to mix in concepts like what the Baltimore Ravens do with Lamar Jackson with what I like to do in the passing game."

Senior offensive specialist Devin Stutz marks the program's biggest returner and will be one of Beying's key targets this season. The first team All-Northeast Kansas League selection said he is excited to be working with the new signal-caller. 

"He's (Beying) getting better every day and I can't wait to get on the field with him this season," Stutz said. 

Stutz said he has improved a lot this season but was slowed down briefly by a sprain to his AC joint. Fritz said he is really impressed with what he see's from the senior offensive weapon.

"He's really honed his route-running ability," Fritz said of Stutz. "He's coming in and out of his routes really well to the point that I'm seeing him as more of a college athlete playing high school football."

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Pleasant Ridge will also have seniors Colton Potter at running back and Caleb Potter at tight/linebacker as well as wide receiver Cole Keller. 

The Rams will balance out their inexperience at the skill positions with an offensive line full of returning juniors and seniors.

"I have a very experienced offensive line coming back," Fritz said, "a bunch of juniors and seniors up there that are not the biggest, but they're mean and really good at doing what we need them to do."

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Fritz said he is still looking for a lot from his athletes as the season nears and is looking to build his ranks by finding newcomers.

"I'm hoping to get some things from some other guys," he said. "Then coming into school and trying to get kids to come out that are good athletes that haven't played in years past. So I'm excited to possibly get some of those guys out there playing receiver for me and doing some other things because they're good athletes."

The Rams open the season with their first two games on the road. They will face Jefferson County North Sept. 3 and Atchison County Sept. 10 before their home opener against Maur Hill Sept. 17.