Harrisburg at Tolton Week 1 FNF
|8 / 22||Tolton||Home||Loss||0 - 63|
|8 / 29||Fayette||Away||Loss||12 - 19|
|9 / 5||Putnam County||Away||Loss||14 - 47|
|9 / 12||Tipton||Home||Loss||6 - 46|
|9 / 19||Barat Academy||Home||Win||28 - 14|
|9 / 27||Missouri Military Academy||Away||Loss||10 - 48|
|10 / 3||Knox County||Home||Loss||0 - 40|
|10 / 10||Lincoln||Away||Loss||8 - 60|
|10 / 17||South Shelby||Home||Loss||8 - 60|
|10 / 24||Marceline||Away||Loss||0 - 55|
Harrisburg High School is coming off a solid 5-4 season, especially considering it was the first season of football at the high school level. They went 5-2 at the junior varsity level and 0-2 in varsity games. It was not a bad start for the program, especially considering the school had only 25 players, including five seniors. Head Coach Travis Kinkade is back for his second season at the school, as he has the difficult task of building a program from the ground up.
The school returns eight starters on the offensive side of the ball, including senior quarterback Blake Williams (5-10, 150). In 2013, he averaged 34.6 rushing yards per contest and 51 yards per game through the air. He certainly hopes to increase these numbers in 2014 and he has been working hard this off-season. Williams' favorite target figures to be senior Drew Ewens (5-9, 145), who had an outstanding 2013 season, averaging 103.4 all-purpose yards per game last year. Sophomores Noah Strawn (6-2, 140) and Garret Gash (5-6, 140) will also see plenty of time at wide receiver.
Harrisburg's rushing attack will be led by senior running back Tyler McMahan (5-8, 145). The speedy McMahan averaged 6.8 yards per carry last season. Sophomores Taylor Bottomley (6-0, 200) and Jeffrey Baker (5-5, 140) will also get some carries at tailback in the spread option offense. Baker missed five games last season due to injury and coach Kinkade gave him a nice compliment, calling him a "tough kid."
Up front, Harrisburg has an experienced offensive line. Seniors Mason Bryan (6-4, 170) and Cody Adams (6-1, 275) will start there, as will Gage Grooms (5-8, 160) and Jacob Strawn (6-1, 185). Sophomore Arthur Betts (5-10, 175) and junior Derek Howard (6-2, 230) are also expected to see plenty of time on the offensive line.
"Our football IQ has greatly improved from a year ago," Coach Kinkade said. "With last year being our first year, our team really progressed in learning how to play the game from a mental and physical standpoint. We have high expectations for ourselves and have had great senior leadership throughout the off-season and the summer."
On the other side of the ball, Blake Williams and Drew Ewens will lead the defensive backfield. Both had solid seasons in 2013. Blake Williams had 30 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, while Drew Ewens had 3 interceptions and 35.5 tackles. Noah Strawn will also play in the secondary, where he had 15 tackles, as will Garret Gash.
Like many high school teams, Harrisburg has plenty of two-way players, so fatigue will always be an issue. The linebacking corps will be led by Tyler McMahan, senior Chad Stuart (5-3, 135), Taylor Bottomley, who led the program in tackles last season, and Jeffrey Baker.
Up front, the defensive line is anchored by Gage Grooms, Jacob Strawn, Cody Adams and Mason Bryan. Arthur Betts and Derek Howard will also see some time on the defensive line.
"Our discipline in the run game has improved a lot due to having a year of football playing experience," Coach Kinkade said. "For us to be competitive, we have to do better in this area. Our kids are thinking less and, as a result, are playing faster. Our leadership on defense is a direct result of the leadership and effort our kids have put forward during the off-season."
Coach Kinkade is teaching his players about football, but is also hoping to teach them some life lessons, too. "Our program is based on three principles: do the right thing, do your best, and treat others the way you want to be treated. Through these three principles, I want our kids to be positive, competitive, and accountable. I teach them ways to persevere through times of adversity."
Coach Kinkade is excited about the future of the program. "Entering our first year of varsity competition, we are going to have our ups and downs, bumps and bruises," Coach Kinkade said. "We lost one our senior returning starters, Austin Horn, in June to an ACL injury, but he continues to be a great leader off the field and will continue to help our program grow in his new role. We have great community support, as well as our Booster Club at Harrisburg and there is a lot of excitement about this year. Our kids are excited to play and our seniors have been tremendous leaders throughout this process. Our seniors and staff have set our team goals and we look forward to this upcoming year."
Pigskin's Pick: 3-6