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By: Corey Stott
MEMPHIS, Mo.- Scotland County Tigers head football coach Troy Carper compared his approach to the start of this season with putting a puzzle together. “The pieces are there, we’re still trying to figure out how those pieces fit together the best,” Carper said when asked how his team will begin life without last year’s talented crop of seniors which included the Long boys, Hayden and Alex. It’s never easy to replace your 1-2 punch of quarterback and running back who each put up over 1000 yards rushing, but that’s exactly what Carper faces going into this season.
There are only three seniors on the roster: Riley Small, Owen Triplett and Lucas Durflinger. They will rely on a supporting cast of six juniors, six sophomores and eight freshmen. If you did the math just now, you should have arrived at a total of 23 players on this Tiger roster.
That means having players remain healthy through the season will be a huge key to success for this team, as the depth will already be thinner than Carper would like. Add to that the fact that you have a large number of younger players being forced into action, and you can see where the 2022 Tigers are looking at a significant challenge from the outset.
But Scotland County has historically been a team that has thrived on being the underdog. Carper is looking to take the low bar set by some prognosticators and use it as bulletin board material to keep this team motivated to prove the naysayers wrong.
Last season, the Tigers were extremely competitive against top-tier teams such as Marceline. Carper says the biggest thing he wants to instill upon this team is how to finish. Last season the Tigers lost a handful of key games by four points or less against quality opponents. Carper wants to see his team be able to finish those games out and be on the other side of the ledger this season.
“Getting the team to buy in and believe is a process,” Carper said. And that process began immediately after the conclusion of last season. He added that “the main goal for this season is to have the kids be better in week 10 than they are in week 1 and continue that process.” He said that he wants his team to be polished and disciplined by the time playoff time rolls around.
Offensively, Elias Hatfield will take the reins as the Tiger quarterback. Carper’s gang will look to continue their philosophy of ball-control and taking what the defense gives them. Jadin Fuller and Riley Small will be lining up in the backfield, while Owen Triplett, Carson Miller and Lucas Durflinger will be lining up at wideout. A host of younger players will also be getting into the mix, and Carper says that’s a large part of the process of “figuring out which pieces go where.”
Carper will have some new faces on his staff this season. Nathan Pippert has been promoted up to defensive coordinator. Kirk Stott will work primarily with special teams and the secondary. Carper said Stott would also likely have a hand in the offense.
“We have to stay healthy, show growth and be disciplined,” Carper said when asked what the key to success was for this season. The longest journey begins with the first step, and the Tigers will take that first step this Friday night at Clark County.