Crossroads Conference Preview
By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Head Coach: Kirk Hannah, 7th season
2014 record (overall/conference): 1-9/0-3
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 8/8
Biggest Challenge: The numbers are good and there are a lot of returners on the squad but the Bears are still looking for more depth heading into the season. Butler is looking to develop those backups so the experience doesn’t drop off when a front-line player heads to the sidelines.
Outlook: Butler has been young for a few years but the fruits of that youth are starting to show. The Bears bring back most of their starters on both sides of the ball. That experience will be needed in conference and out as Butler’s schedule is filled with traditionally good teams like Lamar, Adrian and Cass-Midway.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like our experience. Our quarterback is going to be a really good player for us. He played every snap last year. He is going to be a junior this year. He is about 6-2, 175 pounds and he runs our offense really well. Then we’ve got some pretty good skill people and really we return a lot of people offensively up front really. We’ve got a good mix of juniors and seniors and unlike years past those juniors and seniors will be able to carry the load instead of having a lot of sophomores and inexperienced kids playing on Friday nights when they should have been playing junior varsity football.”
Head Coach: Reis Wright, 2nd season
2014 record (overall/conference): 3-7/1-2
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/5
Biggest Challenge: The Marksmen have a lot of young players and not looking ahead is an area that needs improvement. There is a strong desire to get better but being focused on improving one day at a time and not getting too far ahead one’s self is the primary focus in the early part of practice.
Outlook: This is the second year for coach Reis Wright and the players have had a full offseason with the new coaching staff. There was strong participation this offseason and the group has bonded well. The hope is now the experience can mix with the younger players and move the program another step forward.
Coach’s thoughts: “I love the fact that the kids that are in, are in. We have bought in and become a family. We are all headed in the same direction and have the same goals we are working to achieve every day. Our attitude is great. Our effort is great and loved working with the kids this summer. We are all chomping at the bit to get going.”
Summit Christian Academy
Head Coach: Dalton Vann, 4th season
2014 record (overall/conference): 4-6/2-1
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 9/11
Biggest Challenge: The program is still young. It’s only the second season playing as a MSHSAA sanctioned post-season school and the fourth season overall but the Eagles have made big strides in that time. This year almost all of the players are back from a solid team that won four games. The challenge this season is to take that talent and marry it with the confidence of a good team and turn that into results on the field.
Outlook: With almost all of the starters returning this might be the team that could knock off Van Horn for the Crossroads Conference title. Outside the conference Summit Christian has a formidable schedule that includes Polo, Skyline and Butler. The Eagles will be tested early and if their confidence grows could be a good team come playoff time.
Coach’s thoughts: “They are just mature now. They are getting there. It is so good to see them grow, they grew up right before me. Practice is awesome. I’ve got a great group of kids and they are willing and ready to work. We are still young but we are going to be old on the field because a lot of these guys were freshmen and sophomores when we got this thing started. So they’ve got some experience now and I’m looking forward to an exciting 2015.”
Head Coach: Jeff Tolbert, 8th season
2014 record (overall/conference): 7-4/3-0
Returning Starters (Off/Def): 4/5
Biggest Challenge: The Falcons have lost some good leadership over the last few years and now the younger players are being asked to step up. The transition for those players is ongoing and how they react to adversity and overcome tough challenges will go a long way to Van Horn’s success.
Outlook: Van Horn has been king of the mountain for the last few seasons in the Crossroads. This year they could be challenged by Summit Christian and others. The early part of the schedule could show what the Falcons have. Games against Lathrop and St. Joseph Leblond will show what Van Horn has right out of the gate.
Coach’s thoughts: “I like the talent we have. We have some kids that are pretty talented. Under the right circumstances I think they can flourish in our schedule and our system.”
NOAH Tulsa, Okla.
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