Wolves Stadium looks a lot different, but the style of football hasn’t changed at Reeds Spring High School.
The school district agreed to buy synthetic turf previously used by the University of Cincinnati at a cost of $450,000. Cincinnati installed the artificial field turf in 2013. The university replaced it because the Bearcats now shared the field stadium with a professional soccer team, which requires different field markings.
This turf originally cost $1.1 million. Wolves Stadium also got a new scoreboard.
It’s a far cry from the lumpy grass that once was Carl Langley field, and lightyears from the well-worn practice field sandwiched between an agriculture building and a parking lot. Wolves coach Lance Gosch said the players were excited for their first practice on turf.
“They loved it. Oh, they loved it. It’s been good for us, it’s been good for everybody at school,” Gosch said. “Our grass was in dire need of something, so to get the turf has been awesome,” Gosch said.
Gosch believes the new turf paid off last week as his team prepared to compete at the Athletes U Branson Team Camp.
“Last week we had a lot of rain and we had camp last week. If we’d have been on our practice field, we’d have been in trouble,” Gosch said.
Reeds Spring went 10-2 and fell to Aurora in a Class 3 district championship game a season ago. Gosch said there is “not much” returning from the 2015 roster, but the Wolves have some experience.
“We’ve got some young kids who have done a nice job in camp. The big thing coming in is we lost all four of our linebackers from last year, and so we’re making sure they get some quality reps and try to find those four,” Gosch said.
Reeds Spring showed its ability to attack from the 3-4 defense multiple times during the Branson camp, which should encourage fans of a team that spent much of last season in the statewide top 10 in the Class 3 Missouri Media Rankings. Gosch was also happy to see new players step up for a taste of varsity football.
“We’ve got a lot of young kids who have never really played on a Friday night, haven’t seen that varsity speed, and so it’s been good for us just kind of getting kids exposed to that,” Gosch said.
The Wolves run a flex bone offense which relies heavily on the option run game from the Wishbone of old. On offense, two key ball carriers return in Keenan Haynes and Korey Robinette, and both looked impressive in Branson.
“Korey is not a real vocal kid, but he’s probably one of our hardest workers in the weight room,” Gosch said. “Our strength will probably be on the back end, both offensively and defensively, because we’ve got some skill there and plus they’ve got some experience.”
Quarterback Nick Haddock, who accounted for more than half of Reeds Spring’s total offense running and passing the ball in 2015, has graduated and will be replaced by senior J.P. Gardner.
“Nick was a big loss, but J.P. was behind Nick last year and got a little bit of time in some games,” Gosch said. “(Gardner) does a good job reading our offense. He’s got a decent arm, he’s long legged so he’s deceptively fast. He’s made some nice runs this week.”
The Reeds Spring school district will pay for the turf with the use of a lease purchase over the next several years. Even though the turf is a few years old, the district will receive an eight-year warranty. The estimated cost of maintaining the turf compared to the present grass is approximately $20,000 per year more than the school had been paying to maintain grass.
This football season, Reeds Spring fell into Class 3 District 4 with Aurora, Cassville, East Newton, Hollister, Monett, Mt. Vernon and Seneca.
Reeds Spring Wolves 2016 football schedule
Friday, Aug. 19 Mt. Vernon at Reeds Spring
Friday, Aug. 26 Reeds Spring at Cassville
Friday, Sept. 2 Bolivar at Reeds Spring
Friday, Sept. 9 Reeds Spring at Rogersville
Friday, Sept. 16 Reeds Spring at Central
Friday, Sept. Hollister at Reeds Spring
Friday, Sept. 30 Marshfield at Reeds Spring
Friday, Oct. 7 Reeds Spring at Buffalo
Friday, Oct. 14 Reeds Spring at Springfield Catholic