After a season for the ages for Smithville, the Warriors will look to reload the cupboard in 2019.
The Warriors, finishing with a 12-2 record and a run to the Missouri Class 4 semifinals, graduated six all-state players from the team.
However, Smithville does return seven of the 24 starters, so the cabinet isn’t bare.
“Our confidence and expectations are still very high for several reasons,” stated head coach Jason Ambroson. “Our kids in this program work extremely hard and have great in pride in how they do things.”
One of those players who’s tormented opponents for years is senior running back Isaac Miller. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Miller racked up 1,450 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore, and another 1,251 yards and 20 scores last year.
Isaac Miller could threaten 4,000 career rushing yards with another big year. (Photo: KCSports.net)
Isaac has worked hard since he started with the program,” Ambroson said. “He has the ability to change the game in a hurry.
His twin brother, Spencer, shifts from wide receiver where he hauled in 508 receiving yards last year, to quarterback.
“The two have brought a lot to Smithville football and do anything they’re asked of,” Ambroson said. “Spencer is a very good athlete that will make the adjustment, and make us a better team.”
Another key will be that the Warriors bring back three starting linemen, including senior Cody Fisher (6-0, 275), senior Cody McKimens (6-foot-2, 245) and junior Micah Palmer (5-foot-9, 210). Senior Keaton Clouse (6-foot-3), senior Tristan Gover and junior Michael Kenny (6-foot-3) also will see time in the offensive trenches.
On the outside, senior George Fisher (6-foot-2, 170), senior Nick Blanton (5-foot-10, 150) and senior Brady Earlywine will catch balls at receiver.
Tight ends will see senior Gunnar Swindall (6-foot-2, 210), senior JB Clark and junior Ezekiel Waisner in a rotation.
Spencer Miller shifts to quarterback for the 2019 season. (Photo: David Smith, 810 Varsity)
On defense, McKimens and sophomore Mason Crimm will start on the interior of the line. Swindall, Clark and Waisner will line up on the ends, while seniors Mason Hedgecorth and Blanton join junior Jacob Easley at linebacker.
In the secondary, Spencer Miller returns as a starter, joined by George Fisher, Earlywine and others. Senior kicker Evan Verhulst also returns.
“Obviously the key with having so many new faces will be that they will first have to learn to communicate effectively and play together,” Ambroson said. “We’re very excited to see what challenges we will face. We haven’t been around many groups of kids that have ever worked as hard as these players do. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but very pleased with the direction we are heading.”