By Jordan Burton (For OzarkSportsZone.com)
Life in the SCA isn’t easy, but it can be especially taxing on one of the smallest schools in the league.
Thayer’s enrollment of just 195 is easily the smallest in the South Central Association and the size and physicality of one of Missouri’s best football conferences is one of the reasons the Bobcats struggled to a 4-5 start.
But, that is also the reason Thayer was able to rebound to win the Class 1 – District 2 championship, allowing just 21 points in three games before losing to state power Valle Catholic in the Class 1 quarterfinals.
“SCA football is always sound, solid football,” said Thayer coach Billy Webber. “You always have to bring you best every Friday night. We see a lot of different offensive looks and multiple defensive fronts and coverages from the conference teams. That tough play helps us get ready for districts as long as we stay healthy through that tough competition.”
The 2017 edition of Thayer Football will again benefit from that experience, as well as the return of 16 starters; 10 of those starters are on the defensive side of the ball where the Bobcats held six of their 13 opponents to two scores or less.
That defense will be led by All-SCA seniors Remington Childers and Jett Haven.
“Remington Childers and Jett have been a solid players for us the last couple years,” said Webber. “We look for them to have good seasons for us.”
Junior linebacker Ayden Stone will look to build off a strong finish to his sophomore campaign as well.
“Ayden made some big strides during the later part of our season,” said Webber. “He played really well at linebacker on the edge of our defense throughout districts and against Valle.”
Offensively, things won’t change for Thayer; it will still be a physical brand of grown man football.
“We want people to have to defend the run,” said Webber. “We want to control the tempo of the game and limit their offensive possessions.”
All-Everything lineman Jordan Gower has moved on, but All-SCA senior Dawson Russell will join Childers upfront to solidify the offensive line.
Webber will have no shortage of options in the backfield with senior back Garrett Young returning after a strong junior season. Classmate Kyle Bowers will also get some carries after a strong summer, as will junior Blake Meizler.
Leading receiver Austin Bowers will also be counted on to stretch defenses and make plays on the perimeter. There are also several freshmen that could work their way into playmaking roles for the Bobcats.
Thayer will open the 2017 campaign on Aug. 18 at Hayti. The ‘Cats will have their home opener the following week against New Madrid County Central, before playing their SCA opener the following week against MV-BT/Liberty.