By Justin Sampson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
After six season of Shad, it is time for Stockton to turn the page.
Shad Edwards stepped down as head coach last November after a 3-7 campaign. That left the first open slot at the head of the Tigers staff since 2012.
His replacement comes from the Sunflower State: Travis Hurley, a former Emporia State Hornet who coached at Parsons High School in Kansas in 2017.
Hurley had wanted to move to southwest Missouri and a friend on the Jasper coaching staff turned him on to the Stockton program.
While only a couple months in, he has been pleased with his decision to head across the state line.
“We’re allowed to do more in Missouri than Kansas, so it’s been nice to have more contact over the summer,” said Hurley. “We are building that rapport and numbers are going. Kids might be hesitant about new coaches at the start, but it’s improving.”
The 2017 Tigers gave up 41.6 points per game over an 0-5 start before rattling off wins over Jasper, Butler, and Pleasant Hope. A host of hungry seniors that are looking to improve those numbers will assimilate into Hurley’s 4-3 defense.
The squad boasts 10 seniors overall and the linebacking corps will be one of the most experienced units. Dalton Brandell, Jacob Greenlee, and Bryce Lamb all fit the criteria and will patrol the middle of the defense.
Age doesn’t always translate to experience, however. This is the first year Stockton will co-op with Sheldon High School for football, and Lamb is one of 9-10 players that will join the squad.
“They haven’t played football since the Mighty Mites level,” said Hurley. “When you get pads on, you always have kids that surprise you. Maybe you don’t expect they will able to contribute as much but they show up. We are just competing at this point.”
Hurley added that he got excited immediately upon seeing Lamb in pads for the first time. So much so, he plans to give him considerate touches out of the backfield as well.
Lamb will be one of the features of the pistol spread offense that Hurley is installing. Silas Kenney is the frontrunner to lead the attack at quarterback, while Greenlee will be joined by Sheldon transplants Judd Lloyd and Matt Bogard as potential go-to targets.
“They want to learn and get better. Their drive is there and that’s the first step. We have kids that maybe haven’t played the last couple years and we have a lot to learn. The want-to is there, but I feel like we have the talent to compete.”
Matchups with Miller, Forsyth, and Greenfield all provide new opponents from a season ago. The upperclassmen are eager to begin as they aim to get a big jump on a successful campaign.
“Our seniors want to have a winning season. That is one of their main goals and they are doing their part to accomplish that.”