By Justin Sampson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Lance Gosch never endured a losing season in his six years at the helm of Reeds Spring. In 2019, which ended up being his final campaign as head coach, the Wolves finished 5-5 and bowed out in the opening round of district play.
Now, the reins go to Andy McFarland, who comes over from Forsyth after his inaugural season in a head coaching job. He cited personal connections, facilities, and the school district’s dedication to athletics as primary reasons for the move.
“You have Brian Moler and Lance Gosch, the two previous head coaches, who decided to step away from coaching but remain in the district,” said McFarland. “That sends a clear message that this is a place coaches want to go and stay.”
McFarland’s name is well-known in the Springfield football circle. The Hillcrest alumnus played under Moler, who is now the assistant principal at Reeds Spring High School, and went on to serve as offensive coordinator at both his alma mater and at Parkview.
As he inherits the Reeds Spring football program, his primary goal has been building relationships. School closures and quarantining have made that a challenge, but he is still focused on getting participation numbers up.
“When you’re a new coach in a new place, your top priority is to try and get as many kids involved in the program as you can. Not being able to develop relationships in the hallways has been tough. I would go to track and baseball practice after school in the past. Once we do get back to school, I hope to meet more kids who aren’t necessarily participating in football right now.”
The Wolves have been known for running a flexbone triple option offense, but that is about to change. McFarland is implementing a spread offense, which means a learning curve for his quarterbacks and their surrounding pieces.
Senior Matt Allison is taking a majority of the snaps at quarterback. Junior Easton Byrne and sophomore Joseph Steed could will also battle for time under center.
“I think it will take time to get the passing game where we want it to be,” said McFarland. “It is a big style change. The quarterbacks are doing a lot of things they have never done before with concepts they have never had to think about.”
With 13 starters returning, senior Colton Cramblett is one of the biggest weapons among them. He was a First Team All-Big 8 selection at both running back and linebacker last year and brings back the team lead with 1,151 yards on 163 carries and eight touchdowns. He also led all defenders with 84 tackles, two interceptions, and a defensive score.
He is a big reason why McFarland believes the ground game will be the Wolves’ forte again.
“We will still be a running team this year because of where our strengths lie,” he said. We definitely have athletes at the skill positions.”
Four of five starters are also back on the offensive line, including a pair of All-Conference honorees: seniors Luke McFerron and Blaine Blevins. Junior Tyler Yezefski also saw significant time on both the offensive and defensive line last year and will reprise those roles alongside sophomore Eben Crain.
Pass catching duties are up for grabs as the Wolves graduate Al Chavez, the leading receiver from last year, while Allison transitions to quarterback after being on the receiving end in 2019. Junior Evan Gross is expected to claim a big role in that unit.
Defensively, the Wolves are excited about the amount of experience and proven talent they have back.
“Most of our front seven returns. We have a First Team All-Conference linebacker and a defensive end who was All-Conference player as a freshman.”
Sophomore Caden Wiest is that player who joins Cramblett as an All-Big 8 selection on the defensive side of the ball. Junior Jayden Herrman will also factor into the linebacking corps and at running back, while Byrne will join senior Caliub Solis in the secondary.
Reeds Spring is scheduled to open the season on Aug. 28 against East Newton.