Battle-tested line could carry young Osceola team

OSCEOLA, Mo. — Osceola has enjoyed some big senior classes in recent years, but Paul Carney called 2016 a big transition.

Head Coach: Paul Carney
2015 Record: 7-4
Key Players:  Jason Kennedy (QB/LB), Nathan Piccoli (OL/LB), Blake Murray (RB/LB), Mitchell Carney (WR/DB), Hayden Park (OL)

"As with football, it's the next man up," he said. "That's probably what I like most about my job: seeing the next group step in and do their job."

The Indians lost most of their production from 2015 with 12 departing seniors. They return eight, but could have four or five freshman play significant snaps. A handful of upperclassmen will also test out some different positions due to numbers.

"It's an eye-opener. (The freshmen) are definitely not ready for the varsity level, but they will step up and contribute just like a freshman has to do. We'll do our job to protect them and put them in the right position."

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Osceola posted a 7-4 record in 2015 before losing to Skyline in the second round of districts. Drew Carney was the bonafide No.1 quarterback, while Jason Kennedy attempted just four passes. Now, Kennedy assumes full-time duties as a senior.

The Indians also lost First Team All-State offensive lineman Marek Thompson, leaving seniors Hayden Park and Nathan Piccoli along with returning center Guy Thomas to be the anchors in the trenches.

"We've got a lot of chess games, but once we get things figured out, I think we're going to be pretty good."

Zach Carney and Johnathan Lewis also graduated after landing All-State honors on defense. Kennedy and senior running back Blake Murray will contribute at linebacker while Baccali will also shift from the defensive line to join the linebacking corps.

Mitchell Carney will step in to play receiver and defensive back, lending to a group that expects to show good speed.

With new jobs and new players at the varsity level, Coach Carney said the main thing he wants to see coming out of camp is a good attitude.

"It's accepting the role of knowing thos guys are gone from last year. It's our turn. Let's carry on the tradition. The blocking, running, tackling, running our offensive and defensive plays correctly, I'll be patient on that."

Osceola travels to Midway to open the season on Aug. 19.