By RICK PETERSON
Editor's note: TopSports.news finished its tour of preseason football practice at all 10 Shawnee County high schools on Friday and will post preview stories over the coming days leading into the opening games of the 2022 season Sept. 1-3.
Cair Paravel Latin football coach Doug Bonura knows his team faces a big challenge in its first season as a full member of the Kansas State High School Athletics Association.
But its a challenge that Bonura and his Lions are excited to face.
Cair Paravel, which is coming off a perfect 11-0 record and a Kansas Christian Athletic Association state championship, make the jump to KSHSAA this fall and will compete in the Eight-Man Division I ranks in District 2.
"We're going up against some really good programs and it's going to be a great test to see where we are, if we have been able to move in the direction we want to be able to compete,'' Bonura said. "In our district we have Madison-Hamilton, Burlingame, Chase County, and then Lyndon, which has come down out of 11-man, and all those teams have been deep in the playoffs over the years, so we're going against solid programs and we play (defending Eight-Man Division II state champion) Axtell out of the gate.
"We recognize that there's no gimme here and our boys are excited. We really don't know what to expect fully but we know it's going to be a lot of hard work and it's going to be competition.''
Cair Paravel graduated star quarterback Carter Brian and star tight end/defensive end Noah Hastert, who have moved on to play college football after earning TopSports.news All-Shawnee County Top 22 honors last fall.
But the Lions' cupboard is far from bare.
"We lost a lot of athleticism and leadership from last year, but the nice thing was that it was a small (senior) class, so we're returning 11 starters,'' Bonura said. "Really, for all these guys it's just another year for them after playing last year.
"The big question for us this year is going to be quarterback -- who is going to step up and take that position -- but then as far as our backs I think we're just reloading this year.''
Cair Paravel also has solid numbers for an Eight-Man program, with 25 players currently on the Lions' roster.
"This is the highest varsity number I've had since I've been here,'' Bonura said.
Among Cair Paravel's top returners are seniors Jachin Bonura (wide receiver/defensive back) and Jude Borchers (offensive lineman) and juniors Ian Brian, Evan Will and Simon Everhart.
Bonura received TopSports.news' All-Shawnee County Second 22 recognition a year ago while Borchers, Brian, Will and Everhart all received all-county honorable mention.
Bonura and Brian received All-KCAA first-team honors in 2021 while Borchers was a second-team All-KCAA pick.
Top newcomers include juniors Jesiah Bonura and Noah Collins.
Cair Paravel will open its season at home Sept. 2 against Axtell, which Bonura said will be a good indicator of where the Lions are and where they need to go this fall. Cair Paravel will play all of its home games at Highland Park.
"You don't know until you get there, but one of our mottos is we want to do everything to the best of our ability,'' Bonura said. "We want to be premier in all things -- academics, athletics, your service, your love. That's what we want to do and we're going to find out.''
CAIR PARAVEL LATIN
2022 football schedule
(Home games at Highland Park)
September -- 2 Axtell, 9 at Doniphan West, 16 Marais des Cygnes Valley, 23 at Lyndon, 30 at Burlingame.
October -- 7 Madison, 14 at Chase County, 21 Maranatha Christian, 27 Playoffs.
Next up: Hayden.