Washburn hopes to build off strong 2021 campaign with veteran leadership

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 9:34 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (WIBW) - The 2022 football season is inching closer and we now know where Washburn could land in the conference standings.

Washburn is tabbed to finish fourth this year while defending conference champs Northwest Missouri claims the top spot.

The Bods are entering their 130th season after ending last campaign at 9-3 with a perfect 6-0 home record.

They made the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2011 but fell short against Harding University.

Criag Schurig is entering his 21st season with Washburn. He has a lot of returning players on both sides of the ball.

He will have a new quarterback in Kellen Simoncic starting under center after his son Mitch graduated this past school year. Schurig knows what he has this upcoming year.

“I really like our group, they’re a loyal group, they stuck together,” Schurig said. “Guys that have been in or around our program for four, five or six years and so hopefully we reap the benefits of that experience and that competitive drive.”

Schurig says having Simoncic return will be huge.

“He played a couple of games for us last year and did a great job. We beat Northwest, we beat UCO and he led the way. He had a great spring. He’s our starter coming back… our offensive line is back intact. We’ve returned a lot of depth in the offense and he did a great job distributing the ball,” Schurig said.

Washburn has a lot of older players returning and Schurig calls them the team leaders and best players, like senior Kevin Neal Jr. and sixth year wide receiver James Letcher Jr.

“I think the biggest thing that we’ve taken from this past year is training as being hunted and not the hunter,” Neal Jr. said. “Being the big dogs and training like that and having that swag so whenever we play on Saturdays, we come in with that confidence that we’re supposed to win.”

“I’ve been telling people all day that I think if we don’t make it to the playoffs past the first round it’s a losing season,” Letcher Jr. said. “I’m ready to get back to it, show the world, show the conference and show the country what we can do this year.”

Washburn opens its season at home Sept., 1 against Lincoln University of Missouri.

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