Osage at California FNF Week 8
|8 / 22||Fulton||Home||Win||41 - 14|
|8 / 29||Moberly||Away||Win||35 - 34|
|9 / 5||Warsaw||Home||Win||41 - 0|
|9 / 12||Southern Boone||Home||Win||28 - 23|
|9 / 19||Versailles||Home||Win||64 - 6|
|9 / 26||Blair Oaks||Away||Loss||6 - 55|
|10 / 3||Eldon||Home||Win||21 - 16|
|10 / 10||California||Away||Loss||29 - 43|
|10 / 17||Hallsville||Away||Win||38 - 20|
|10 / 24||Springfield Catholic||Home||Win||55 - 14|
|10 / 31||Ava||Away||Win||41 - 30|
|11 / 7||Mountain Grove (District Championship)||Away||Win||43 - 36|
|11 / 14||Monett (Quarterfinals)||Home||Loss||21 - 42|
School of the Osage is coming off a tough 3-7 season, but many underclassmen gained valuable experience and the future is bright for the Indians as they head into 2014. Head Coach Devin Johnson is excited for his first season at the helm.
"Last year the Indians were young and at times played that way," Coach Johnson said. "They were an extremely talented group but struggled to close out games. The record was not indicative of how talented this group was. The good thing is that a lot of the core players are back and want to prove themselves this year."
School of the Osage returns seven starters on offense, including their impressive senior quarterback Austin Riley (5-10, 160). He threw for nearly 3,000 yards last season and an eyepopping 33 touchdowns. He has a chance to prove this year that he was one of the best quarterbacks in school history. Riley's favorite target figures to be big wide receiver Collin Samuelson (6-4, 185), also a senior. He was named to the All-Conference team last year after catching 39 balls and 9 touchdowns.
Riley and Samuelson are not the only All-Conference skill performers on the Indians, however. Running back Jake Ulmer (6-1, 215) is back for his senior season after being named to the All-Conference squad in 2013. Fellow senior Justin Heiser (5-9, 160), whom Coach Johnson calls "very shifty and a big play ball carrier," will also get to carry the pigskin plenty.
Up front, the offensive line is led by another All-Conference performer from 2013, senior Alex Weatherspoon (6-4, 255). He'll be joined on the line by another senior, Scott Brannan (5-11, 255), who coach calls "powerful at the point of attack." Fellow senior Michael Crosby (6-0, 195) and junior Chas Kempf will also be in the trenches.
"We are very strong up front and that will be a huge strength to our offense," Coach Johnson said. "They are physical and look to move people off the ball. We also have a lot of skilled players who are returning. We will be hard to defend with the amount of players we have that can be special with the ball in their hands. We will utilize all of our weapons to keep defenses guessing."
On the other side of the ball, the linebacking corps will be led by a group of seniors: Leelan Scott (6-0, 180), Jeb Robertson (6-2, 180), Jake Ulmer and Michael Crosby. Chas Kempf will also see plenty of time at linebacker.
The Indians' defensive backfield will be led by the senior cornerback Collin Samuelson and junior free safety Russell Williams (5-10, 155). Up front, senior Brad Russell (5-8, 175) will start at defensive tackle, while junior Matthew Halsell (6-1, 195) will start at defensive end. Coach Johnson calls Halsell a "very aggressive football player."
"Our defense is very athletic," Coach Johnson said. "We have developed a swarm mentality that our defense hangs their hat on. We will look to get after the football and create turnovers. There is a lot of experience and depth on the defensive side of the ball for us this next year and we will use that to get after our opponents.
"I believe in playing fast," he added. "Whether that is in practice, in the weight room, or on Friday night, I believe that our team must be prepared to make fast decisions and execute them quickly. A conditioned and organized football team will win games, and that is what we will be."
Coach Johnson certainly seems excited to get his first season at School of the Osage underway. "I am very excited of the potential this unit possesses," he said. "Our guys are ready for the year to begin and we expect to win a lot of football games. This is a program that has been on the upswing for the last few years and I expect that continue. If we can learn to close games, we are going to have a great season."
Pigskin's Pick: 6-3