By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Justin Breedlove takes over the reins at Greenfield and the program will also shift back to 11-man football.
While this is Breedlove’s first head gig, he inherits a roster that is built to win immediately, and he’s excited about establishing his culture at Greenfield.
“The most important thing is try and build morale around the football program,” said Breedlove. “Often times when a coach leaves kids, staff, even the community look at it like a bad thing, and sometimes it is.
“So, I am trying to get everyone excited for this season and I am trying to get our kids out in the community as much as possible to help build that morale So far the support from the school as well as the community has been great.”
The Wildcats return 13 starters from last year’s group and plenty of firepower starting with senior quarterback Bailey Baker. Baker threw for 1,883 yards and rushed for 568 yards, racking up 48 total touchdowns as a junior.
“Bailey is one of those athletes that makes coaching easy,” said Breedlove. “He shows up every single day and is always listening. He is a tremendous leader as well as a great athlete. So far Bailey has shown the ability to learn quickly as well as make great decisions. He shown good arm strength as well as the ability to move outside the pocket. We are really looking forward to see the year that Bailey could have.”
Baker will have plenty of weapons at his disposal too. Classmates Gage Burns and Tyrell Stafford are a pair of versatile options, useful in both the run and pass game.
Burns rushed for 518 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He also had 249 receiving yards and three more scores. Stafford is a perimeter threat that can lineup tight or wide. His frame can be used for blocking or stretching the field. He finished last season with 23 receptions for 469 yards and eight touchdowns.
“Gage is a very gifted athlete that is elusive in space,” said Breedlove. “He will also see time at receiver where he shown great talents catching the ball. Gage will also use his speed to play safety on defense.
“Tyrell is a big body who will play WR/TE. He has great hands and is a solid athlete. He is going to play a big role in our pass game, as well as blocking in our run game. Tyrell will also play a big role on defense.”
Junior Quin Morrow is also expected to receive more touches offensively. He led the team in tackles last season as a sophomore.
“Quin is a good athlete with speed,” said Breedlove. “He is shifty with the ball and always seems to find that hole in the defense. He is also an exceptional LB. His speed helps him be able to drop back in coverage or come down hill in run defense.”
The lines will be anchored by seniors Seth Trask and Nico Murray. Both guys were two-way starters a year ago.
“Seth is a player that plays with a high motor on both sides of the ball,” said Breedlove. “His aggressive mentality makes him tough to block and get by on offense. Nico is one of the strongest kids on our team. He also shown great leadership and will head up the offensive and defensive lines.”
Breedlove is also excited about the development of senior Jacob Boucher and junior Caden Sims. Both players have frames that will allow them to make an impact on the defensively line this season. Boucher will also play on the offensive line and Sims will see reps at tight end.
Greenfield will have the adjustment of sliding back to 11-man football after playing 8-man since 2014. Breedlove is hopeful that his defense can help the team get acclimated and set the tone for what he hopes will be a successful season.
“This group is fast, and they have already shown that the can go make big plays,” said Breedlove. “I am also impressed by how well they have communicated with one another on defense. They play well together, and I think that is only going to improve as we move forward.”
Greenfield will open the 2018 season on Aug. 24 at Liberal. Week 2 will be an 8-man matchup with Osceola, the team’s only 8-man game of the season. The Wildcats home-opener will be on Sep. 7 against Forsyth.