Guys on the Rise
Jade Bloss, Running Back – Sarcoxie: The Bears are one of the area’s best rushing teams. In an era where spread offenses have taken over, Sarcoxie doesn’t pass much, because they don’t need to. Last year they racked up 3,359 yards and 46 TDs on the ground. Bloss had a spoonful of that, compiling 689 yards and nine touchdowns on just 100 carries. With Sarcoxie looking to replace nearly 300 carries and 2,000 yards, expect Bloss to get the whole bowl in 2013.
Lucas Combs, Quarterback – Willow Springs: With names like Acklin and Otwell in the SCA, Combs flied relatively under the radar. In 2012 he contributed 1,200 yards of total offense and 14 TDs for the Bears. He was just a sophomore. A year bigger, a year stronger, and a year more familiar will lead to a big season for Combs. With a few more wrinkles being added to the Willow Springs offense, Combs will have added responsibility and added opportunity to make things happen in 2013.
Bo Dean, Quarterback – Camdenton: You may not know Bo Dean yet… but you will soon enough. His senior year will be his first and last donning the Lakers’ purple and white after moving from Osage, but it will likely be one to remember. Last year at Osage Dean pulled his best Tim Tebow impression, throwing for 2,947 yards and 19 TDs, while rushing for 1,513 yards and 29 TDs. Yes, Dean single-handedly accounted for 4,460 yards and 48 TDs. He also had 56 tackles and 4 picks defensively. With the talent that Camdenton has returning at its skill positions Dean should have a plentiful 2013 campaign. Somewhere Jeff Shore is smiling.
Da’Quan Ervin, Quarterback – Branson: If you are familiar with the high school athletics scene you are probably well aware of who Ervin is. He is one of the Ozarks top basketball and track prospects, and this year he's adding football. What you may not know is that Ervin has moved from his running back/ receiver spot, to signal caller. As Steve Hancock continues to implement a spread attack, he couldn’t ask for a better athlete to run it from the quarterback spot. Ervin racked up 1,391 all-purpose yards and seven touchdowns in 2012 with modest touches. I’m excited to see what happens when the ball is in his hands every play.
Elza Evans, Running Back – Lebanon: This fall will be Lebanon’s first without all-time leading rusher Brock Wes in awhile. Fear not YellowJacket fans, as has become customary in Lebanon the next running back will step up and fill the void. Meet Elza Evans. He may not have the same wiggle as West, but he packs a little more punch at 200 pounds. In 2012 he ripped off 9.32 yards per carry as West’s backup, finishing the season with 615 yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers will increase dramatically in 2013.
Tony Grant, Running Back/Linebacker – Kickapoo: The Chiefs have so many weapons that are poised for great seasons this year, but I think the most vital may be Grant. He is a ball of power and explosion. He runs angry (399 yards, 8 TDs), and Kickapoo will need that and more from the 205 pound junior. He is also active defensively. Expectations are high in South Springfield, and if they are to compete for an Ozark Conference championship they will need Grant to help “carry” them there.
Darnell Green-Beckham, Wide Receiver – Hillcrest: It hasn’t been an easy four years for the younger brother of the nation’s best high school receiver. The younger DGB has battled lymphoblastic leukemia since February of 2011. Although he’s not completely back to 100%, he is getting bigger and stronger each day. At 6-foot-4 he has the size, athleticism and pedigree to be a contributor. Expect his role in Hillcrest’s offensive to expand in 2013 as well as the number of D-1 scouts knocking on his door. He is verbally committed to Mizzou.
John Fuchs, Running Back/Linebacker – Kickapoo: Yes, there are two Chiefs on this list, but they both deserving. Although it will be tough to see a huge jump in his numbers offensively (502 yards, 4 TDs) because of all the weapons they have returning, Kickapoo's defense will be counting on Fuchs to be a leader. With the losses of Michah Foote and Keenan Bates, Fuchs production will be imperative for the Chiefs. He is more than capable; in 2012 he racked up 61 tackles, four fumble recoveries and a sack.
Jordan Jack, Quarterback – Miller: The life of a backup quarterback isn’t a fun one. Coaches are apprehensive about putting you on the field at another position for fear of injury. It is even tougher in Miller when your last name is Jack. Finally, we get to see the latest Jack brother take his shot at running the Cardinal offense. His older brother, Justin, racked up 3,330 yards and 53 TDs as a senior in 2010. However, the younger Jack has better size (6-foot-3, 220 lbs) but less experience. Don’t expect a repeat of those 2010 numbers, but don’t be surprised if Jordan leads Miller right back to the Class 1 state playoffs.
Matt Magee, Wide Receiver – Carl Junction: Magee is an extremely talented receiver in any offense. But, as Doug Buckmaster takes over the helm at Carl Junction, his exotic offense will be just what the doctor ordered for Magee to have a big season. In 2012 Magee racked up 552 yards on 44 catches to go with seven touchdowns. Look for those numbers to increase in his senior campaign for the Bulldogs.