Owen Gerdes wants to be more. 

For the first time in his high school career, Gerdes will make the move to playing both sides of the ball. Gerdes is also one of the top returning offensive linemen for the Charleston Trojans football team. After losing 15 seniors to graduation from a 2-7 season, Gerdes said believes the hard work could pay off into something special. 

That hard work for Gerdes has dated back to lifting since December while completing a summer running program with sophomore offensive lineman Zac Price. 

“With that and the summer workouts for football, I have been working hard the whole off-season,” said Gerdes. “The main focus for me this season is to play on both sides of the ball. I haven’t played defense in high school, but I’ve really been focused on learning the technique and plays to be on the defensive side of the ball and still be able to play center on offense.”

Gerdes said that his main goal is to finish his high school career as a First-Team All-Apollo offensive lineman. Doing that would “showcase” what he can do on the field. Last year, kicker Connor Woodley was the lone All-Apollo selection for the Trojans. 

There are questions about who will replace the skill players as well. Two-year starting quarterback Jack Nelson has graduated, while former starting tackle Brody Rankin is set to compete for Eastern Illinois University after graduating. 

Gerdes said that there are prospects looking to fill those spots and have been looking pretty good so far. 

“Our new varsity Quarterback Brett Spour is looking very good this year,” said Gerdes. “Coming off of injury, he’s been putting in the work this past offseason and it truly shows on the field. I have confidence in him that he can get the job done. We lost Brody Rankin at left guard, but his replacement is very solid too. Jeremiah Lobby has been grinding this offseason and he is going to be a big help for this team. As my left-hand man, I have confidence in his ability to get the job done on the O-Line this season.”

On the defensive side, Gerdes said that Aidan Archibold has been looking “very good” and that his talent can help him get around offensive lineman. The team will need to replace a large number of defensive players that made tackles last year, which included leading tackler Nate Shrader 

Shrader was also the team’s top running back, while the receiving corps lost six seniors that recorded receiving yards last year. 

Despite the losses, Gerdes said that the Trojans have been grinding away and he likes what he sees. 

“The team is looking very good this year,” said Gerdes. “Everybody has a great attitude and gives 110% effort every time they step into the weight room or on the field. Our receivers have stepped up tremendously. Most of them last year were seniors but our receiver core is solid with people returning like Luke Nelson, Langdon King, and Jeremiah Hayes. Jacob Roe has stepped up this season at wide receiver, and will be doing good things on the field for us this season.”

Charleston has not qualified for the playoffs since 2012 and has combined for 14 wins in the last 10 seasons.  

Gerdes said that the team is not focused on the past and ready to take it one week at a time. 

“Our team is focused on our first game,” said Gerdes. “Get the first win, then we can move on to the second one. I believe we can go farther than that. The way that this team works is amazing. We have amazing chemistry and attitude that I believe will take us to great places this season.”