By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Republic is looking for its first winning season since 2015 and will turn to a new coach to do it with Ryan Cornelsen taking over the program this fall.
Cornelsen spent the last 18 years in Kansas where he amassed a 139-45 record, including a state runner-up finish, at Gardner-Edgerton, Hutchinson, Hays and LaCrosse high schools.
He now has the challenge of taking on one of the toughest leagues in Missouri where he knows building a solid foundation is the only way to build a consistent winner.
“The first year at Republic we will look to establish a culture of accountability,” said Cornelen. “If we want to find success we must first be accountable to the process.”
While every position is being re-evaluated under Cornelsen, he does have the benefit of returning several players with varsity experience.
Seniors Micah Erickson (6-0, 250lbs), Trysten Hart (6-1, 250lbs), Derek Kabetske (5-11, 220lbs) and junior Dean Marcum (6-0, 250lbs) all have two-way experience on the line.
Senior Avery Moody (6-2, 190lbs) will likely be starting at quarterback after taking snaps at nearly every skill position last season while also starting at safety. Junior Gavyn Beckner (6-1, 190lbs) also saw significant time at quarterback last year, in addition to playing linebacker.
Seniors Hayden Jones and Chase Buford are also returning and should be leaders at receiver as well as in the secondary.
Daniel Kotov and Jarrett Whitworth will be senior linebackers after seeing time last fall. Juniors Connor Sandridge and Ezekiel Meads will see time in the backfield, while both could also see reps in the back half of the defense as well.
Cornelsen has also seen some great things from several newcomers.
Senior Jonah Archer will provide depth on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Juniors Gunner Ellison and Cooper Douglas will see reps at the offensive skill positions as well as the secondary. Sophomores Kannon Krol, Carter Nation and Wyatt Woods are also competing for playing time.
The COC is coming off a season that saw four of its 10 members play for district championships. Several of the other six had their season ended by an in-conference opponent.
While Cornelsen doesn’t have experience in the COC, he knows what high-level high school football looks like. Before Republic can be concerned with wins and losses, the Tigers will look to learn how to compete each play, each series and each quarter while adjusting to a new scheme.
“The COC obviously produces great football each and every week,” said Cornelsen. “This high level of competition requires that we execute at a very high level and eliminate mistakes. We look forward to that opportunity. We do return some quality players in key positions, these returners will have to lead our program. How fast we can execute the new system in all three areas will determine the success we will have in 2021.”
Republic will host Neosho on Aug. 27 to open the 2021 season. The Tigers will visit Willard on Sep. 3 and host Nixa on Sep. 17.