By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Greenfield is gearing up for Year Two of the Justin Breedlove era and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone more excited than the head coach.
The Wildcats return 12 starters from last year’s 7-4 edition, but most importantly, both players and coaches are more comfortable within the system.
That win total represented the program’s highest in 11-man football since 2010.
Greenfield was able to learn on the fly and find immediate success under Breedlove, but coach is also excited about what he was able to learn as a rookie head coach.
“The biggest key for me was being able to adapt,” said Breedlove. “Being able to adapt to a new school, new town, new community. The support from day one had always been overwhelming. Football wise we had an amazing group of seasoned players year one, who were kind of use to instability to a point. Having never worked with these kids before, luckily their talents lined up with what we wanted to achieve.
“I think personally, getting past the year one unknowns of being a head coach will be really key. Fully knowing the expectations of the jobs and duties. In game management will also be point of improvement. You always learn from your in game experiences and I’m looking forward to keep growing and working with these athletes.”
Greenfield will reload this fall between a group of returning two-way starters.
Senior Daunte Stafford was an All-SWMFCA selection on both sides of the ball as a receiver and defensive back. Classmates Quin Morrow and Levi Matthews both received the same honor at linebacker.
All three players will take on even larger roles this season.
“Daunte is a tremendous athlete who can excel at any position you play him at,” said Breedlove. “On offense we will see him at many different spots from, RB, WR, and QB at times. On defense Daunte will look to show off his speed and athleticism at safety. Really looking forward to seeing how Daunte can grow from junior to senior year.
“Quin is a good athlete with speed. He is shifty with the ball and always seems to find that whole 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. Levi has great instincts on defense at the middle linebacker position. He led our team in tackles last season. He plays hard and has worked to improve his receiving abilities.”
Senior Caden Sims will transition from offensive line to playing some quarterback and tight end. Classmate Jacob Jones will again return to the receiving corps and defensive backfield.
Breedlove is especially excited about returning some size and experience up front with juniors Jacob Freezell (6-4, 255lbs), Arron Matthews (5-10, 250lbs) and James Dardenne (5-11, 215lbs) all reclaiming their spots on the offensive and defensive lines.
Dustin Harmon and Dalson Meyers will also bring athleticsm to Greenfield, especially defensively.
Junior Antonio Anaya and sophomores Tyler Howard and Brad Reid will also figure into the equation on both sides of the ball.
Breedlove believes overall his team will need to utilize its speed on Friday nights on both sides of the ball.
“We have some players who are good in space,” said Breelove. “These guys have the ability to make something out of nothing. Using the speed of these players to get to the outside and make defenders miss will be a big part of our offense. Up front we should be more seasoned and ready to go.
“Our strength on defense will be our speed. We have safeties that run well, but speed at our linebacker position is what really stands out. Those guy can drop back in coverage or get after it in the run game. I am excited to see how good this group can be on defense.”
For Greenfield to make a playoff run, it could very well come down to its ability to pull out close wins.
Last year three of the Wildcats four losses came by a touchdown or less.
With so many faces that have been through the fire, having big-game experience should help eliminate that problem.
Experience and more familiarity with Breedlove’s system will hopefully be the catalyst for Greenfield competing for a district championship and making a deep playoff push this season.
“I think it is always a work in progress; we hammer mental toughness, and doing the right things even in tough situations,” said Breedlove. “I think the experience of those close games will definitely help this year’s group.
“This group will have to find what it’s good at and perfect it as much as possible. I think our kids love to compete, and will be in great shape, just being discipline and knowing what is needed will be key. There are going to be growing pains early, as with any team, but we’ll get those worked out. We are always looking to compete for a district championship.”
Greenfield will open the 2019 season on Aug. 30 at Jasper. The Wildcats home opener is on Sep. 20 against Marionville.
The Dade County Bowl against Lockwood will be on Oct. 18 at Lockwood.