The Central Ozarks Conference- Small will, no doubt, look different in years to come. (Hollister and Buffalo have already announced their intentions to leave.) But for now, its the same teams ready to do battle. For the past couple of seasons it has been a two horse race and most likely it may be that way for at least another season.
Any talk in this league has to start with Bolivar. They have owned the league for over a decade. However, things in Bolivar, they are changing. The Liberators graduated a ton. 19 of 22 positional starters were seniors a year ago. And as big of a loss as any, Coach Lance Roweton said “goodbye”. But don’t feel to sorry for them, they return QB Connor Sechler, TE Brandon Emmert, and lineman Zach Howard. That threesome is as good as it gets.
Reeds Spring has been close to getting over they hump against Bolivar. In fact, the Wolves led late in the game last year. The Wolves were hit hard by graduation as well. But they have a ton of speed returning. Keenan Haynes makes the move to fullback and looks to be in for a HUGE year. Korey Robinette is among the best sprinters in the state and will try to use that speed to his advantage carrying the football. The Wolves had to replace a lot on defense, but if that group can step up, this may very well be the year they dethrone the Liberators.
Hollister is looking to take steps forward before leaving the conference. They have taken their lumps in the COC since starting their program. But a new offense may be just the ticket to get them going. The advantage of playing a lot of young players is that you get to have them come back the next year and Coach Jacob Hamon hopes to be able to take advantage of that. The Tigers seem to really be ready to make some noise. This could very well be the year they start their climb.
This will be year three for Coach Steve Hancock at Springfield Catholic. He is another coach that was forced to play a lot of youth last season. But some of that youth is extremely talented and now they have another year in his system. He is one of the best coaches this state has ever seen and its just a matter of time until he has the Irish rolling.
Marshfield is a school that has really spread things out in the past few seasons and happily aired it out. Well, year two under Nate Thomas looks like it will bring change. The spinner offense series that Lamar has had great success with looks like it will be the weapon of choice for the Blue Jays. And it might just fit their athletes skill sets better. Looking forward to seeing how they progress.
Buffalo has had a real tough go of it for quite a while now. But even in a rough season last year you could see some change. Coach Mark Jackson has brought new enthusiasm to the once proud program. He was only able to install a portion of his offense in year one. Season two will include the uptempo style that he prefers. He has started getting the kids to buy in. Now, if he can get enough of them, the Bison will start to stampede.
At Logan-Rogersville it really seems to be a numbers game as much as anything. It was not that long ago that they were in the dome clinging to the state championship trophy. But what a difference a few short years have made. You cant replace talent like Dylan Cole but one of the biggest problems has simply been the number of kids coming out for football. Sport specialization has hit Rogersville as much as any school.
The schedules have changed this year. In the past Reeds Spring and Bolivar played the final week of the season. This year they play Week 3 in the first conference game for both schools. Will that be the de facto championship game once again? Will someone step up unexpectedly like the Wolves did a few years ago? Time will tell…. what we know is Bolivar is the king of the hill, right now, and the six other schools would like nothing better than to knock them off that mountain. We will find out soon enough… Its time for some football