With much summer talk around the sports world centered around transactions — most notably today’s baseball’s trade deadline — it seems natural a couple of new players were impactful this week on the high school football field.
Springfield teams Kickapoo and Central could be heavily reliant on new blood this fall, while Glendale’s unfortunate loss of a key player means they picked up a coach instead.
The talents of Kickapoo’s Jamariqune Green and Central’s B.J. Shockley, and the coaching of Glendale’s Justin Starks were on display Tuesday as Missouri State University’s team camp concluded at Plaster Stadium.
Nixa, Strafford and Parkview also competed in the two-day event.
Green — who moved to Springfield from Haughton, La. In January — should be an impact player for coach Joel Wells. The wide receiver/safety has the strength and speed to make plays on both sides of the ball.
“It’s kind of an even amount of talent with here and Louisiana, but here is maybe a little more competitive,” said Green, who ran track in the spring. “I have one year here and need to show that I’m ready for the challenge.”
Green caught some deep passes from Kickapoo senior quarterback Anthony Cooper on Monday’s first night of camp, firing up his teammates. He also made sound plays on defense both days, and said he has his sights on a big year for the Chiefs.
Central is trying to add to its big year from last year, when coach Pete Hanson led the Bulldogs to its first playoff victory in school history.
Some of that success is what led Shockley to come out for football for the first time since middle school.
“I wanted to play because I wanted to help the team win, and it looked fun, and I hadn’t played in a while,” Shockley said. “I should be able to get a lot of yards just from my running. And football is just in my blood.”
Shockley will touch the ball quite a bit at wide receiver and running back. The Bulldogs need to replace the production from graduated players such as running back Secoy Hodges and wide receiver Tavion Neal.
Glendale suffered a tough loss in the season-ending playoff loss at Branson last year, as the team’s main offensive weapon, Starks, went down with a serious injury.
The running back was rushed to the hospital and was believed to have a concussion. However, about a month later he was diagnosed with cervical stenosis, which is a narrowing of his neck.
Doctors told him another big hit could leave him paralyzed, and his football career ended before his senior year began.
“I’m very blessed,” Starks said. “I thank God for it every day. If I didn’t find out, I could’ve been out here, had another accident and I would’ve never known about it.
“I’m very blessed that God was on my side and let me know.”
Starks has helped coach Tyler Overstreet this summer, and still plans to play basketball and run track this year.
“It hurts to not be able to play out here with my team, but it eases the pain a little bit to come out here and help coach, help the guys out a little bit,” Starks said. “And to share with them the stuff that I know.”