By Justin Sampson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
“They say you can’t go home again, but I did. I’m so happy to be a Bulldog.”
Vincent McCrosky is no stranger to Cabool and the challenges that come with competing as a small school in the South Central Association, but use those words to express how eager he is to start his second stint as head coach of the Bulldogs in 2018.
McCrosky led the Cabool program for nearly a decade starting in 2000. He then made stops in Houston and Willow Springs before moving to Arkansas. He only got the reigns back in Cabool in June and will try to prepare the Bulldogs to capture their first win since their district opener in 2015.
“You start with kids,” he said. “We want to become better men and just fight. I’ve never known a man that didn’t have to fight for his job, a woman, his family… and we want to become better as men. Then the football will take care of itself.”
He inherits nearly two dozen letterwinners and seven seniors from the 2017 squad. He expects to have close to 40 on the roster in time for the season opener at Doniphan.
With a late arrival and limited access to his players, McCroskey has not shied away from motivating his players with the respect angle.
“We are everybody’s homecoming,” he says.
To change that pattern, Cabool will rely on experience up front. Seniors Hayden Casper, Josh Rowlett, and Spencer Christeson will anchor the offensive and defensive lines. Christeson is the only returning All-SCA selection as an honorable mention last season.
Dallas Palmer must also be replaced at quarterback as Will Johnson and sophomore Dakota Overby will battle for those honors. Whoever does not get the nod will be placed at receiver alongside Dakota’s brother, Dalton, a junior.
McCroskey also expects big production out of running back/receiver Adrian Ortega, who he calls maybe the biggest sleeper on the squad.
“We’re a concept-heavy team,” he said. “If you lay back on us, we’ll stand back. If you play up on us, we’ll go deep. We’re going to make you make a wrong decision.”
Senior Shawn Smith will also be vital as a team leader in the backfield and at linebacker.
While the varsity program waits patiently for an eighth grade class with 20-plus players to arrive next year, McCroskey has no desire to look that far ahead. He feels confident about the youth and speed at the skill positions. That, plus a little more backup in the trenches, could make the Bulldogs a problem this fall.
“If we can get some more linemen, we could really make some noise. I’m not saying we’re going to go 10-0, but I just don’t think we’re somebody you’re going to take lightly.”