Posted: Jul 16, 2014 9:51 AM
Updated: Sep 26, 2014 11:15 PM
|8 / 22||North Callaway||Home||Win||35 - 12|
|8 / 29||California||Away||Loss||0 - 21|
|9 / 5||Marshall||Away||Win||27 - 14|
|9 / 12||Hannibal||Home||Loss||26 - 27|
|9 / 19||Boonville||Away||Win||35 - 12|
|9 / 26||Centralia||Home||Win||52 - 7|
|10 / 3||Kirksville||Home|
|10 / 10||Fulton||Away|
|10 / 17||Moberly||Away|
|10 / 24||Districts|
The Mexico Bulldogs will begin the 2014 football season with their third head coach in just four years of which seems to be a revolving door position. Coach Steve Haag will replace Ty Harrison on the sidelines this year, after a disappointing 3-7 2013 season and a 1-9 record just a year before in 2012. Coach Haag, who has been at Mexico for 14 years, is determined to rebuild this struggling program and bounce back from those difficult seasons. His mantra for the new season: "respect the game." If Mexico is going to be successful, "we need to build a winning culture on and off the field" which translates to: "we must know what we are doing, and we must do everything with intensity." A higher level of intensity is the solution, he feels, for bridging the gap for those 50/50 games, of which four were lost last year by a margin less than twelve points. The seasonal record might not accurately reflect it, but the Mexico Bulldogs are certainly contenders each and every Friday night; and with a solid 15 returning lettermen, the Bulldogs hope to accentuate their experience and once more let the defense carry them home to victory.
Perhaps the strongest component to this 2104 squad is their defense. With a bulk of seniors returning, this experience may translate to a better record and an overall better atmosphere on and off the field. Defensively, the Bulldogs look to rely on the experience of both linebacker and defensive secondary positions. A strength to their 2013 season, Mexico returns senior Johnny McDonald (5-10, 160), senior Chance Harper (6-3, 200), and junior Karsten Ekern (6-0, 185) who earned All-NCMC honors in 2013 at backer. In the secondary positions, look for the senior powerhouses Tyler Bracht (5-8, 160) and Skylar Harrington (5-11, 160) who both received All-NCMC nods last year for their skillful and intense performances. They will be joined as well by fellow DB's: Cole Jaramillo (6-0, 180) and Spencer Thomas (5-10, 160). Look for Brit Wilson to be in the mix on defense as well. Up front however, Mexico will be in a rebuilding stage, relying on newcomers such as junior defensive lineman Jaylen Lee (5-11, 210).
Not as experienced, is Mexico's offense, which will be an ongoing project for the 2014 season. Offensively, Mexico will utilize multiple formations to keep their opponents' defenses second-guessing and allowing the O-Line a myriad of weapons as they look to gain some much needed varsity experience. Thus a great deal of the leadership and responsibility roles fall on the shoulders of returning junior offensive linemen Connor Templeton (5-10, 230) and Caleb Quinlan (5- 11, 220). Speed and determination define the backfield with RB's Tyler Bracht, Karsten Ekern, and newcomer D'Milo Nunnelly (5-9, 170). For the passing game, the Bulldogs look to the experience of Skylar Harrington, Chance Harper, and Cole Jaramillo at the wide receiver positions. At quarterback will be Spencer Thomas and he will be backed up by sophomore Brit Wilson (5-10, 160).
On the whole, the Mexico Bulldogs will need to mesh their experienced roles with that of the newcomers if they want to be successful. Much like any high school program, the upperclassmen must set a precedent for leadership and intensity, developing that ever-so-essential core nucleus of players. Coach Haag is feeling optimistic however and is "looking forward to building the 2014 Bulldogs!" He recognizes the uphill battle, but is also quite confident in his squad as long as they "stay big up front" and remain "senior driven." A clean slate for a new coach doesn't necessarily translate to a winning season however ? as the returning players are all too well aware of the past few seasons slipping away from them game after game. Once again though, it appears the Bulldog's defensive play will weigh heavily on the scoreboard and will, as it often seems, be the very backbone of this program that is trying to find stability. Certainly not an easy task, especially with powerhouses such as Hannibal and Moberly at the top of the rough-and-tough NCMC; but perhaps this is the year for the Mexico Bulldogs and Coach Haag to tip the scales in a more lucrative direction -- back to .500 football, all the while bringing respect back to the Mexico football program.
Pigskin Pick: 4-5