While the name of the coach has changed, not much else has.
Lance Gosch, the former defensive coordinator, is now calling the shots for the Reeds Spring Wolves football program after last season’s 9-2 finish.
“By being a part of the program, I am just installing some of my ideas,” Gosch said. “We are keeping the core. The message is the same but the voice is a little different.”
While Reeds Spring had a seasoned team the past two years, youth is the key word now. There are only three returners on offense and five on defense.
“We haven’t had to have our regulars go both ways on the field,” Gosch said. “This year, we do and we’re getting our kids in shape to play both ways. It will be more of a grind for them this year.”
Two seniors will lead the Wolves’ offense: Fullback Dalton Pameroy and halfback Josh Kent.
“In high school football, if you can run and not turn the ball over and play defense, you can win some games,” Gosch said.
The defense is anchored by all-conference lineman Adam Hall, a 6-2, 250 pounder who will lead the 4-4 defense along with Gage Nolan and Kent, an all-state free safety.
Other teams of note in the area:
• Carl Junction: Coach Doug Buckmaster’s Bulldogs finished 10-2 last year, losing only to eventual state champion Webb City, including in the third round of the Class 4 playoffs. The Bulldogs are powerful again.
Senior running back Keynan Scheurich, who arguably was overshadowed last season by a senior quarterback and senior receiver, rushed for about 1,500 yards and scored 25 touchdowns, drawing interest of Division I teams. He bench presses 350 pounds and power cleans 500 pounds.
Defensive end Chase Johnston (6-foot-4, 228) verbally committed to Kansas State over the summer after also participating in Missouri Tigers and Arkansas Razorbacks summer football camps. He had 15 tackles against Hillcrest in a 29-28, second-round playoff win in Springfield.
“He’s a weight-room warrior,” Buckmaster said.
• Waynesville: The Tigers won five of their last eight games last season to finish 5-7, advancing to the second round of the playoffs before losing to Camdenton.
This year, coach Rick Vernon is optimistic, especially since the weather is cooperating and players hit the weights in the offseason.
“Last year’s flooding took our field away,” said Vernon, now in his 33rd season. “We had our first practice the Thursday before the first game. We fought through it into the season. The early games could have gone any way.”
Willie Parker, senior speedster, and Jalen Thomas, a hard-nosed runner who attacks the line from tackle to tackle, will be key. Then, there’s quarterback Varon Martinez, a quick signal-caller who can read the option. Last year, the three combined for 30 touchdowns and 2,400 yards of offense while running the pistol formation.
Junior Seth Hedrich is expected to see a lot of time at wide receiver. On defense, the Tigers feature 6-4, 240-pound Chaz Strobling, a defensive end. In addition, Jason Smith, a former free safety, has moved to linebacker.
• West Plains: The Zizzers, under third-year coach Steve Ary, hope last year’s inexperience and 3-7 record will result in better play this season.
Last year, there were seven sophomores in the lineup, and they will return.
“I think things are beginning to click,” Ary said. “Those three are getting acclimated to the system. I think we will be a lot better.”
Seven defensive players return, and six return on offense, many of whom won postseason honors. There are 35 seniors and juniors combined.
Junior quarterback Sam Hall will run the multi-set offense with a single back. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the fifth week of the season last year, and the Zizzers didn’t win again.
On defense, there are three all-conference starters returning: first-team linebacker Matt Wernsing, a senior and honorable mention starters Sage Wood, a senior defensive lineman, and John Williams, a junior free safety who had five interceptions last season.
• Rolla: Coach Willie Howard sees a little light at the end of the tunnel. Rolla was 1-9 last season.
“We’re much improved at the skill positions. We’re more of a spread team this year. Last year it was more of a power run team,” Howard said.
Leading the Bulldogs will be quarterback Kyle Morris, a junior who started 10 games last year. Andy Satulla, a senior, is back after gaining 1,300 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns last year.
• Hollister: Jacob Harmon is still working to establish a varsity mentality with his Tigers, who finished 2-8 last year after a winless 2012 season.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” the Hollister coach said. “We have some great pieces. We’re trying to get down. We have a good foundation.”
The offense is turning to a single-wing set, dumping the spread offense. The single-wing will operate without a designated quarterback and three will line up in the backfield, seniors Chandler Shook, Tristan Shofner and Tony Simonetti.
Cody Franklin, a sophomore transfer from South Carolina, also will get carries.
• Buffalo: After enduring an 0-10 season last year, coach Jeff Stone’s message to his team is simple: “Execute, complete, win.”
“I think if people come and watch Buffalo football, they will see we play good,” Stone said. “The kids are working hard and are ready to go.”
Last season went off the track after starting quarterback Dallas McGuire was injured in a car accident and was lost for the second half of the season. He returns this season fully recovered.
He will pair with his cousin, Cole McGuire, a running back/wide receiver and free safety on defense.
(Reeds Spring, West Plains, Waynesville, Rolla, Buffalo, Hollister)
Aug. 22: Lebanon at Rolla; Willow Springs at Reeds Spring; West Plains at Waynesville; Hollister at Houston; Buffalo at Fair Grove
Aug. 29: Rolla at Kickapoo; Salem at Reeds Spring; Camdenton at West Plains; Waynesville at Lebanon; Hollister at Cabool; Buffalo at Pleasant Hope
Sept. 5: Parkview at Rolla; Marshfield at Reeds Spring; West Plains at Glendale; Hillcrest at Waynesville; Buffalo at Hollister
Sept. 12: Joplin at Rolla; Reeds Spring at Buffalo; Hillcrest at West Plains; Waynesville at Parkview; Bolivar at Hollister
Sept. 19: Rolla at Waynesville; Reeds Spring at Rogersville; West Plains at Joplin; Hollister at Springfield Catholic; Central at Buffalo
Sept. 26: Camdenton at Rolla; Reeds Spring at Catholic; West Plains at Lebanon; Joplin at Waynesville; Hollister at Marshfield; Buffalo at Bolivar
Oct. 3: Rolla at Glendale; Hollister at Reeds Spring; Kickapoo at West Plains; Waynesville at Camdenton; Springfield Catholic at Buffalo
Oct. 10: Hillcrest at Rolla; Reeds Spring at Central; West Plains at Parkview; Glendale at Waynesville; Rogersville at Hollister; Buffalo at Marshfield
Oct. 17: Rolla at West Plains; Bolivar at Reeds Spring; Waynesville at Kickapoo; Fair Grove at Hollister; Rogersville at Buffalo
Coach: Willie Howard
Key players: QB Kyle Morris (jr., 6-1, 190), RB Andy Satulla (sr., 5-8 200), WR Collin Nash (sr. 6, 175), WR Brad Lohr (sr., 5-7 160), TE Blaine Hrovat (5-9 170), TE Braden Tiddy (6-1, 200) OL Dalton Turner (sr. 6-1, 215), OL Dakota Cartwright ( sr., 6-3, 270), DL Tyler Hribar (sr., 6-1 215), LB Billy Brookshire (sr., 5-11, 170) LB Evan Voight (jr., 6-1 215), LB Andy Satulla, DB Holden Pierce (sr., 5-10, 185), DB Landon Maynard ( sr., 6-1, 180)
Reeds Spring Wolves
Coach: Lance Gosch
Key players: FS/WR John Kent (sr, 6, 195), CB/HB Blake Ball (sr., 5-5, 170), DT Adam Hale (jr., 6-2, 250), LB Ben Arteaga (sr., 5-10, 190), LB/HB Chase Didrickson (sr., 5-9, 175), LB/FB Dalton Pomeroy (sr., 5-11, 175), DE Gage Nolan (sr., 6-2, 210), TE/QB Noah Cherry (sr., 6, 205), OL Paul McFerron (jr., 6-0, 260), OL Jacob Grunder (jr., 5-8, 210),
West Plains Zizzers
Coach: Steve Ary
Key players: RB/LB Matt Wernsing (sr., 6-0, 214), QB Sam Hall (jr, 6-0, 178), WR Hayden Nichols (sr., 6-0, 180) WR /DE Gerard Dietrich (jr., 6-3, 220), OL/DE Sage Wood ( sr., 5-10, 215), OL Jacob Hackworth (sr., 6-1, 245), OL Dausen Neuschwander (jr., 5-10, 185), LB Robert Kurth (sr., 5-10, 175), DB Tyler Sands (sr., 5-9, 155), DB Alex Harris (sr., 5-9, 153), DB John Williams (jr., 5-8 165), LB Chance Davis (jr., 6-0, 197)
Coach: Jacob Harmon
Key players: WR/LB Chandler Shook (sr.), RB/LB Tristan Shofner (sr.), RB/DB Tony Simonetti (sr.), OL/DL Parker Wright (sr.) OL/DL Brandon Gandy (soph.), RB/DB Kobe Stewart (jr.), RB/BL Jesse Barker (sr.)
Coach: Jeff Stone
Key players: OL/DL Kody Cruzan (sr., 6-2, 260), QB Dallas McGuire (sr., 6-2,180), LB/RB Austin Schneider (sr., 6-1, 195), OL/DL Chase Mitchell ( sr., 5-10, 220), FS/RB Gavin Kueck (jr., 5-10, 170), FS/RB Cole McGuire (jr., 6-2, 180) OL/LB Dalton Poe (jr., 6-1, 210), OL/DL Austin Rice (jr., 5-10, 215) OL/DL Taylor Sims (6-1, 270), RB/LB Dontae Toppin (jr., 5-10, 170) RB/DB Connor McDonnell (jr., 5-9, 155), RB/DL Shane Headley (jr., 6-2, 230)
Coach: Rick Vernon
Key players: WR Zac Melvin (sr., 5-10, 195), WR Seth Hedrick (jr., 6-1, 185), TE Sam Roberts (jr., 6-6, 255), T Austin Anderson (sr., 6-3, 280), G Daren Garcia (sr., 6-1, 285), C Matt Oliphant (sr., 5-11, 275), G William Finch (sr., 6-2, 245), QB Varon Martinez (sr., 5-8, 165), RB Jalen Thomas (sr., 5-10, 180), RB Willie Parker (sr., 6-0, 180), DE Chazden Stribling (sr., 6-4, 230), DE Sam Roberts (jr., 6-6, 255), LB Jason Smith (sr., 6-0, 210); DB Nigel Farmer (sr., 5-7, 150).