By Chris Parker & Matt Turer
Former Fort Scott Community College head coach Curtis Horton takes over Diamond this year after former Diamond head coach Ben Glidewell left for the same position at St. Joseph Benton. Glidewell was 15-7 in two seasons at Diamond.
Horton likes what he sees out of the Wildcats so far.
“The first thing you notice is the tremendous work ethic they have here. For the size of our school, our summer attendance is phenomenal. (They are) very coachable and we’re excited about the season,” Horton said.
The Wildcats have some rebuilding to do after losing nine players that combined for 15 all-conference honors to graduation.
“We lost a lot of players from last year. They had a graduating class of nine. For a two-way school that’s a big class,” Horton said. “You don’t replace those guys; you just find a way to live without them. The biggest thing though, is they lost four of their five offensive linemen, so we’ve got a lot to build. We’ve just got to keep working and we’ll get there.”
Leading the returning players is Chris Maturino at running back and linebacker. Maturino was second-team all-conference at both positions as a junior. He rushed for 722 yards and on 92 carries and had 10 catches for 119 yards. On defense, he had 99 total tackles with 9.5 of those for a loss along with three forced fumbles. On special teams, he was the punter last season where he earned all-conference honors.
He replaces lead back Triston Shepherd who had 177 carries for 1,579 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior season.
Isaac McLuaghlin will fill a utility role after earning all-conference honors at linebacker. Horton has him moving around between guard, tackle, linebacker and tight end.
Colby Housh will take over at quarterback for the graduated Carter Prewitt. Prewitt threw for 1,555 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.
The offensive line will be a work in progress, but the inexperienced unit will have a great mentor in Horton who has a reputation as a strong developer of linemen.
“I like my big nasties. I take a lot of pride in those guys. Everything starts and stops in those trenches, you know, o-line and d-line. I like to take a personal interest in all of it but I really love to coach that offensive line,” Horton said.
Diamond will open the Curtis Horton era on Aug. 18 at Pierce City.