Editor's note: 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 2023 season on Sept. 1.


Coming off a perfect 11-0 record and a Kansas Christian Athletic Association state championship in 2021, Cair Paravel Latin football coach Doug Bonura knew his team was going to face a big challenge last fall in its first season as a full member of the Kansas State High School Athletics Association.

dougBonura2023Cair Paravel Latin football coach Doug Bonura (right) talks to his team during a preseason practice session. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

That certainly proved to be the case as the Lions finished 3-5 after an up-and-down campaign and came up short of their goal of advancing to the Eight-Man Division I playoffs out of District 2.

"Last year was kind of a year of getting things figured out, going into KSHSAA for the first time, and not knowing half the teams we played,'' Bonura said. "That's half your battle when you know what you're getting into.

"Last year we were really hoping to get into the playoffs. We thought we had a chance, and we did have a chance, but we just didn't put two and two together to make it happen and we played some really good teams.''

But with a strong, senior-laden returning nucleus, Bonura is confident his team can make some major moves this fall.

"This year we've got a lot back (26 on the varsity roster) and we've got eight seniors, which is helpful, and we've got a lot of experience,'' Bonura said. "A lot of them have been playing since they were sophomores, and they're hungry.''

Among Cair Paravel's top returners are seniors Jesiah Bonura, Ian Brian, Simon Everhart and Evan Will.

Will completed 90 of 132 pass attempts for 965 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 354 yards on 67 carries and scored 11 total touchdowns.

J. Bonura had 40 pass receptions for 400 yards and five TDs and carried the ball 37 times for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Everhart caught 17 passes for 190 yards and four touchdowns before suffering a midseason injury while Brian also fought through injuries a year ago.

"Those things hurt, but even with that we felt like we could have given ourselves a little better opportunity (to make the playoffs),'' D. Bonura said. "Lyndon we almost beat and we could have, we just made mistakes. It was partly maturity and partly competition level.

"This year we've got our sights set, but we know it's not going to be given to us.''

Cair Paravel will open its season Sept. 1 at Axtell before playing its home opener on Sept. 8 against Doniphan West at Highland Park, where the Lions will play all of their home games..

"We want to enjoy the journey and have fun with it,'' D. Bonura said. "We can't dictate whether we get into the playoffs if we don't take care of today's practice. Get better today, which takes care of tomorrow, which takes care of the first game.

"We're not focusing on the end. We're focusing on right here, right now. ''


2023 football schedule

(Home games at Highland Park)

September -- 1 at Axtell, 8 Doniphan West, 15 at Marais des Cygnes Valley, 22 Lyndon, 29 Burlingame.

October -- 6 at Madison, 13 Chase County, 20 at Maranatha Christian, 26 Playoffs.

Next up: Hayden.


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