By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Following a head coaching stop at Pierce City and assistant stints at Neosho and Seneca, Mac Whitehead has been tasked with leasing the resurrection of Diamond Football.
The Wildcats went winless last season, being shut out in six of their ten games.
But, Whitehead is encouraged by what he’s seen from his team throughout the offseason. He also knows the biggest challenge is changing the culture of the program.
“I am so excited about the potential of our team this year. The kids have really worked hard all summer long in the weight room, at 7-on-7 activities, and team camp,” Whitehead said. “The coaching staff have really tried to instill a blue collar hard-hat mentality with the kids. Our goal is to get better every day inch by inch and not look to tomorrow but focus on the day and how we can make the team better each day.”
Diamond won’t be starting from scratch, returning several key pieces from last season.
It’ll start upfront with seniors Owen Gray, Justin McGough and Robert Foersch. The trio of two-way linemen add beef and experience to the line.
“We will be expecting the strength of our team to come from our returning starters on the offensive line and defensive line,” White head said. “Their leadership and experience will be key to our success.”
Senior Colby Housh will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the experience on the offensive line. Whitehead has been impressed by his athleticism and believes he will play a major role offensively.
Senior Sparkey Bridgewater and junior Cameron Addington will compete for the starting quarterback job. Both will likely start defensively as well.
They are just two of many guys that could see increased roles in 2018.
“Newcomers that I anticipate making an impact are: senior Sparkey Bridgewater and junior Cameron Addington at the quarterback position. Both players have had a great summer and they are both in competition for the starting quarterback job,” Whitehead said. “Senior Chad Stephens will make an impact at running back as well as sophomore Kolbe Jones, freshman Isaac Baird and freshman Landon Clement. Sophomore Jace Taylor and senior Colton Long are both showing the ability to make plays at tight end. Junior Austin Behler and freshman Hunter Shallenburger are improving every day at wide receiver and will contribute a great deal. Senior Joey Hobbs will make an impact on defense at the linebacker position.”
Whitehead’s first season will come as Diamond transition into a new league, the Southwest Conference. A merger of the SRVC and Mid-Lakes, it’ll provide some extremely intriguing matchups.
“I’m excited about the new conference. I think it allows for great competition each week. The Southwest Conference I believe will give spectators a number of great games each week,” Whitehead said. “I’m looking forward to the high caliber football played by all the schools involved in the conference.”
Diamond will open the 2018 season on Aug. 24 at home against Ash Grove.