Eldon at California FNF Week Four
|8 / 23||Madison Prep||Home||Win||42 - 8|
|8 / 29||Hogan Prep||Home||Loss||33 - 55|
|9 / 6||Blair Oaks||Home||Loss||6 - 28|
|9 / 12||California||Away||Loss||0 - 55|
|9 / 19||Warsaw||Away||Win||36 - 15|
|9 / 26||Versailles||Home||Win||50 - 7|
|10 / 3||Osage||Away||Loss||16 - 21|
|10 / 10||Hallsville||Home||Loss||15 - 38|
|10 / 17||Southern Boone||Away||Loss||14 - 19|
|10 / 24||Fulton||Away||Loss||28 - 65|
2013 was a transition year for the Eldon Mustangs, but it also marked a turning point for the program. Head Coach Shannon Jolley had put together a new group of coaches, tweaked a few things on each side of the ball, and several mediocre years of Eldon football were quickly forgotten. "Last year's team grew together as the year progressed and our new staff did an excellent job of putting people in the right positions to cap off another great season," Jolley says. The players took it upon themselves to make the most of the opportunity at hand. "It may not have been our most talented group of kids we have had in Eldon, but they made a commitment to be all in and celebrated together as the seventh-ranked team in Class 3 at the conclusion of the season."
The Mustangs quickly got past a few growing pains early on. "I thought our kids played tremendous football at the conclusion of our season," Jolley says. "To win back-to-back district championships after our struggles in the past was monumental for our program." Eldon will enter 2013 with just a handful of the players who helped make them so successful last season, but don't expect that to lesson Jolley's enthusiasm. "We are really excited about the younger roster we have this season," he says. "Our kids have had a great summer and we will field an exciting team of young men committed to working hard and representing our school and community well!" If the Mustangs are going to match their 2013 season, the defense will have to settle in and be effective early, allowing the offense a little leeway to get past its inevitable growing pains. Five starters return to the defensive side of the ball, making that task somewhat more manageable. Coach Jolley is especially enthused about his inside linebackers, and he has every right to be. Juniors Chris Lemen (5-8, 185) and Garret Scrivner (5-8, 185) will both cover the middle of the field once again. Lemen had 72 total tackles in 2013, 47 solo, and 25 assisted. Scrivner accounted for 44 total tackles, 34 solo, 10 assisted, and was also good for 2 sacks. Both players' numbers should increase along with their responsibilities this season. Physical junior Levi Shinn (6-0, 175) returns at OLB for the Mustangs. He had 16.5 total tackles and 1 INT a year ago. Shinn will be sided by newcomers in sophomores Jacob Whittle (6-1, 185) and Christian Bohm (5-9, 160).
Coach Jolley also speaks highly of the "athleticism in the secondary." This starts with junior Cole Hedrick (5-7, 160), who returns at DB. The speedy Hedrick can cover a lot of ground and is unafraid to lay a hit down. He tallied 19 total tackles last season. Junior DB Owen Tamm (5-10, 155) is a sure thing to join Hedrick in the secondary this year, though the other starting spots remain undetermined. Big junior Graham Baucom (6-3, 260) is the lone starter returning to the defensive line. With added muscle from the off-season, he'll be a handful for any O-line to deal with. He should stuff the run to great effect this year. Junior Tim Fischer (6-0, 185) will take one of the starting spots at defensive end. Across the board the defense is a group with pretty decent size, and they should certainly improve on the 27 points per game they allowed in 2013.
With just two starters returning, a host of questions accompany the Mustangs offense in 2014. They have a good spot to start with, though, as Baucom will again anchor the O-line. He helped pave the way for over 4,000 Eldon rushing yards last season, garnering All-District honors in the process. A trio of newcomers will join him in juniors Dalton Moore (5-8. 240) and Dale Folsom (6-2, 255), and senior Thaxton May (6-0, 225). What this group lacks in experience they more than make up for in size.
They''ll be clearing holes for Shinn, a returning starter at RB. Shinn scored 4 TDs in 2013 with 476 yards rushing. He managed to average over 6 yards per carry. Sophomore FB Shane Randall (6-1, 190) will assist Shinn in his rushing duties. Jolley believes that the mix of backfield speed and big bodies up front will pose problems for opposing defenses. Who will line up under center, though, remains an open question for the Mustangs.
Coach Jolley and the Eldon Mustangs don't come in to 2014 with a ton of firepower. What they do have, though, is a commitment to excellence and the attitude to make something out of little. They also have a fine 2013 campaign to build off of. They may not make the noise that they did last year, but the Eldon Mustangs are the type of squad that no team will enjoy playing.
Pigskin's Pick: 6-3