By Chris Parker & Josh Hall
Neosho has a Kansas high school coaching veteran in Leon Miller taking over its program this year after four-year head coach Dustin Baldwin left for Republic.
Miller’s teams made the Kansas playoffs 23 times over 28 years at three stops.
The Neosho job provided Miller a chance to get back to his home state of Missouri.
“It was a good opportunity. It’s a program that’s had some success. I’m a Missouri boy. I grew up in Missouri, so I always figured I look back towards the end of my career to come back to Missouri, and this was a great opportunity,” Miller said.
The transition has gone well in the early going.
“The kids have been good, the coaches have been good. The community seems to be behind these kids and the program, so it’s been a pretty good transition. I’m looking forward to the season,” Miller said.
Neosho will have several key holes to fill after the graduation of six all-conference players from last year’s team. That group included second-team all-state wide receiver Bryce Murphy who had 56 catches for 1,250 yards and 13 touchdowns. Also gone is quarterback Coleman Scott who threw for 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns with 830 yards and 12 more touchdowns on the ground.
That senior group saw Neosho football go from 3-17 their freshman and sophomore years to 13-9 their junior and senior seasons.
Senior Adrian Hitchcock is one of the top returning players after he was a first-team all-conference selection at defensive tackle as a junior. Hitchcock, who was the Class 3 state wrestling champion at 285 pounds, will also see time on offense.
James Renfro is Neosho’s only other returning all-conference player. He was First-Team All-COC Large at defensive back last year. He will also see time on offense according to Miller.
Hitchcock and Renfro both help add to Neosho’s overall team strengths.
“We’ve got good size up front and good team speed. Overall I think we have a good mix of size and speed,” Miller said.
Juniors Jarvis Funk and Gavin Kelley also both had good summers for Neosho and should be contributors this fall.
Neosho will open the season on Aug. 18 at Branson.