Posted: Jul 16, 2014 9:50 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2014 11:17 PM
|8 / 22||Palmyra||Away||Win||21 - 0|
|8 / 29||Monroe City||Home||Win||23 - 20|
|9 / 5||Clark County||Home||Loss||15 - 18|
|9 / 12||Highland||Away||Win||26 - 6|
|9 / 19||Moberly||Home||Loss||0 - 28|
|9 / 26||South Shelby||Away||Win||28 - 21|
|10 / 3||Brookfield||Home|
|10 / 10||Louisiana||Away|
|10 / 17||Centralia||Home|
|10 / 24||Districts|
The black and orange of the Macon Tigers had quite a productive 2013 football season, finishing 9-3, yet Head Coach Pete Claas is "cautiously optimistic" as the 2014 season rolls into August. "We lost 12 very good seniors from last year's team," Claas says, "nine of which received post season honors. Thus, we are left with some very big holes to fill." The Tigers will return five offensive starters and four defensive starters when they take on Palmyra on the road to start the season. Most frustrating for Claas and his Macon squad is the loss of record-setting quarterback Craig Smith who graduated just last year. Such is the case for all high school programs however, and Macon, much like others will spend the greater part of the 2014 season gaining experience and relying on younger talent to pave the way for another successful year. Although there are big holes to fill, Claas and his Tiger coaching staff are thrilled and excited to get underway. They know all too well that for this team to be successful they must find leadership from those experienced players and many youngsters will need to step up and fill big roles.
Offensively, there is no doubt Craig Smith will be missed. However, the Tigers expect senior Aaron Brown (6-0, 185) and sophomore Nolan Bright (6-0, 175) to compete for the quarterback position---two viable and athletic candidates---both of which show great potential. Racking up 2,184 rushing yards and 1,887 passing yards just last season, Macon will look to capitalize once again on big numbers. Facilitating the passing game is All-State senior wide out Brendan Watts (6-1, 185) who tallied 45 receptions and 14 TD's just last season. To complement Watts on offense expect Collin Patrick (6-3, 170) and the tall Jon Murray (6-7, 190) to catch a lot balls this season.
The Tiger's threat in the running game is senior running back Joe Lewis (5-8, 165) with last year's 109 carries for 880 yards and 13 TD's. Macon will also look for senior Christian Thrasher (6-2, 175) and senior Luke Mosely (5-9, 175) to pick up the slack in the running game for graduating seniors Chris Little and Kaleb Welch. Unfortunately too, the Tigers' O-Line is diminished this year as they lose three standout starters: Trey Kothe, Jordan Lolli, and Lukas Still. Yet the coaching staff is "expecting big things from James Mitchell (6-2, 270) and Jacob Casady (6-2, 205) as they join returning starters Brandon Sontheimer (6-0, 215) and Bradley Burkhardt (6-2, 220). Jonathon Kothe (6-4, 240) could also figure in the mix on the offensive line along with several sophomores."
Much akin to the losses suffered on the O-Line, so too does the D-Line need some mighty rejuvenation as they lost all four starters to graduation. The defensive line will be anchored by Skyler Thomas (6-1, 205) who saw a lot of playing time last year at DE. He will be joined by James Mitchell, Jacob Casady, and Jonathon Kothe among others. Opponents should keep a keen eye on linebacker Brandon Sontheimer however as he tallied 103 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 INT's in 2013. Bradley Burkhardt will also return at backer along with Nate Richardson (6-2, 195) who began to see time late in the season last year. Expect Ty Smithson (6-3, 195) and Ethan Freeze (6-2, 175) to contribute at LB as well. In the secondary, Luke Mosley, Caleb Perry (6-3, 210), and Christian Thrasher all saw significant playing time a year ago while the remaining spot is still up for grabs.
Clearly the Macon Tigers are returning this year with a solid backbone of talent at key positions. Yet, the big question remains: can those older and more experienced players lead the younger guys to a higher level of play? If so, standouts such as Joe Lewis, Brendan Watts, and Brandon Sontheimer will need to leave last year's stats and accolades behind and focus primarily on a new successful rebuilding year. One of which poses its own new challenges -- especially that of the QB position along with the O-Line a DLine holes to fill. Once again, it might be beneficial to reiterate Coach Pete Claas' "cautiously optimistic" phrase as the Tigers venture onto the field in 2014. Perhaps a big win on the road against a strong Palmyra squad might be just the thing to throw caution to the wind which might leave the Tigers left with only optimism.
Pigskin's Pick: 5-4