Last year was the best ever for the Glen Rose High School Beavers. They lost only once in the regular season, then made it to the state finals, but there lost a barnburner against Harding Academy with only seconds left.
“We are proud of a lot of what we did,” said coach Mark Kehner. “But we don’t talk about it much now. It still hurts.”
Another bittersweet day for the team was this spring’s graduation when many of the seniors who had led the team said their goodbyes.
But there is still experience on the team. Stepping in after two-time all-state quarterback Collin Hunter is senior Clay Holicer (5-9, 190), who will be a running quarterback, according to Kehner.
“We will play the Spread and run the ball more,” Kehner said. “We will play the short game, going to the running back more, and move the back a lot. We might be using the same plays but from different formations.”
Junior Carlos Burton (5-10, 185) had a good spring practice and he is now bigger and faster, Kehner said. Last year he led the team with 189 carries for 1,965 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Senior Austin Kehner will be the fullback in the T-formation and will alternate with Burton as running back.
Dillon Laquieu (6-2, 170) will be at wide receiver along with Austin Ellis (6-1, 165).
Kyle Petersen (5-10, 170) was named all-conference last year with 42 catches for 655 yards and four TDs. Peterson thrilled the Beaver faithful in the state championship, scoring on a 12-yard pass with 1:11 left in the game before Harding drove down the field to take the win. Senior Blake Nesbitt (5-8, 175) is the other inside receiver.
Coach Kehner said there are two returning veterans. Senior and all-state guard Zach Lankford (5-10, 250) and Drake Lackey, who was all-conference last year, on the front line this year with Alec Edwards, a junior, at center. The right guard is Alex Coney (5-9, 175) and right tackle is Austin Glenn (6-0, 185), a senior.
“The line is a work in progress. There is talent, but they have not been out there before,” coach Kehner.said. “But we have some experienced blockers out front, so we feel confident we can get it done.”
The coach said the team has only 32 student athletes, so almost every one of them has duties on both sides of the ball.
Lackey is looking at playing nose guard, and Lankford is at tackle. Senior Austin Dyer (6-0, 220) and senior Billy Wyllia (5-10, 180) are rotating on the weak side, while Austin Glenn (6-0, 185) is on the strong side. Sophomore Britt Matlock (6-2, 205) will pack up several spots on the line, the coach said.
Peterson, who led the team with 95 tackles last season, will be at linebacker with sophomores Jordon Johnson, Austin Kehner and Clay Holicer. Burton will play safety, and kicker Dakota Harris (5-8, 155) plays his third year as cornerback. Nesbitt will play the left-side corner.
“This team has lots of special team experience but not a lot of Friday night,” the coach said. “And there is no depth right now.”
Kehner said the team’s strength is a proven running game.
“We will have to lean on it early as we get the receivers more experience,” he said.