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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Waynesville football makes do

  • While dealing with loss of practice facilities to flooding issues.
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  • This is Rick Vernon's 32nd season as head coach of the Waynesville High School football team.
    And he hasn't seen another preseason quite like this one.
    The Tigers were to have the luxury of having not one, but two, all-purpose synthetic turf fields by the time the 2013 season kicks off.
    Those plans came crashing down in tragic fashion, as the recent floods that killed a pair of Waynesville-area residents and destroyed dozens of homes also took out the Tigers' practice and game facilities at the Waynesville Middle School.
    Slaughter Field at the current Waynesville Middle School has been the Tigers' home field until this year, as a new field is being constructed behind the high school building.
    However, that new field will not be game-ready until the first week of September. And Slaughter Field has been deemed unplayable by insurance adjusters and will need extended repair work to return it to normal conditions.
    So Waynesville has been left without a true practice field. There is a large, grassy area next to the high school that the Tigers have converted into a makeshift field. And on Saturday the team was to travel to Camdenton for its first full-contact practice on the synthetic turf at Bob Shore Stadium.
    Waynesville will participate in the Nixa Jamboree on Aug. 23 and is slated to open the season Aug. 30 at Ozark Conference rival West Plains.
    The Tigers' first game on their new field is scheduled for Sept. 6 against Lebanon.
    Vernon says his players have kept things in prospective.
    "When we met with the players the day after the flood they didn't even mention football," Vernon said. "They talked about how they could help people who have lost their homes. So from that aspect, everything else has been easy.
    "We have a good grass field at the high school (to practice on); it's 100 yards with really good grass. Fortunately, the dressing facilities at the high school were ready, so we've been practicing here."
    When the Tigers finally do get on their new field they will be trying to rebound from a 3-7 2012 campaign, including a 3-6 conference mark.
    Vernon has seven offensive starters and six defensive starters back, although the bulk of the team's skill players were lost to graduation, including all-purpose player Dylan Newcomb, who played both quarterback and receiver on offense and was a two-time all-state defensive back.
    Even so, the Tigers feel their overall depth will be a team strength.
    "Our numbers are great and we had a great offseason," Vernon said. "Summer-wise we had a great turnout. It's made our transition and everything we've had to face much easier. I can't say enough about these players.
    Page 2 of 2 - "Depth (is a strength). For the first time we've gone to two-platooning the offensive and defensive units. It gives you a lot more reps and keeps the players fresher. You're getting more players on the field playing and it creates more enthusiasm. I think that's been a really strong point."
    Vernon says the Tigers won't change the base formations the Tigers use, again going with the spread offense and a 3-5 base defense.
    "We'll use the spread, shotgun, one-back (on offense)," Vernon said. "The same as we've done the last eight or nine years. And our defense will be the same as we've done the last few years."
    Graduated Alec Tebbe and Newcomb will have to be replaced at quarterback. And Vernon has another duo he's planning to turn to at QB in senior Trent Simpson (5-11, 165) and junior Varon Martinez (5-8, 155). Martinez was one of the Tiger speedy receivers last season and finished with 350 receiving yards.
    Senior Michael Thompson (5-9, 160) returns at receiver and the Tigers have a three-man rotation at running back with senior Ronnie McLean (5-11, 205), junior Willie Parker (5-11, 190) and junior Jalen Thomas (5-10, 180) sharing the load.
    Three-year starter Jace Hale (6-0, 260) returns at guard to anchor the offensive line. Other returning linemen for the offense include junior guard Daren Garcia (6-0, 270), junior guard William Finch (5-11, 240) and senior tackle Giovanni Robinson (6-4, 280).
    Senior noseguard Jacob Semple (6-3, 270) returns to the defensive line along with senior Matt Dillon (6-1, 205).
    Tiger linebackers returning are senior Joey Bradford (5-10, 205), senior Corey Duncan (5-11, 220) and junior Tony Smith (5-10, 205).
    2013 Waynesville schedule:
    (All Games Start at 7 p.m.)
    Aug. 23...Nixa Jamboree (6 p.m.)
    Aug. 30...at West Plains
    Sept. 6...Lebanon
    Sept. 13...at Springfield Kickapoo
    Sept. 20...Springfield Parkview
    Sept. 27...at Rolla
    Oct. 4...at Joplin
    Oct. 11...Camdenton
    Oct. 18...at Springfield Glendale
    Oct. 25...Springfield Hillcrest
    Nov. 1...District playoffs (tba)
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