After back-to-back winless seasons, Jake Brookshire’s third year was one of the best in recent memory at Cabool with the Bulldogs winning six games and making a run to the district championship game before falling to Marionville, 20-14.
The playoff run included a rout of state-ranked Lockwood 42-21 in the district semifinals.
“The last few years our first round opponent had been Valle Catholic and when you play the state champion in the first round year after year it is hard to see where you can really compete in Class 1,” said Brookshire. “We know we play a tough schedule all year long and we were able to stay healthy. It was nice to see other Class 1 schools and know we’d been tested and that we were ready for people our size. We did a good job and got close to a district championship and where we would like to get back to.”
Cabool will look to duplicate last season’s success, despite losing its leaders in rushing, receiving, tackles and interceptions.
But, back under center for the Bulldogs for the fourth consecutive season is quarterback Tanner Barnes.
Barnes, also a basketball and baseball standout, threw for 1,103 yards and 13 touchdowns, also rushing for 402 yards and six scores. In his career Barnes has 32 varsity starts entering his senior year.
“It’s hard to put in words what he means to the program,” said Brookshire. “He’s been a leader since he was a freshman. God gives everyone different gifts and he’s definitely blessed him with that. He’s our best football player and I’m biased but he’s probably one of the best in the Ozarks too. He can flat play and leads by example… he’s good at everything he does, not just football.”
Gone from last year are several key players like Broderick Davis and Joe Kozak, but the loss of All-SCA performer Chance Hunter’s 948 rushing yards and 128 tackles will also be missed.
Brookshire is looking for the younger brothers of former Cabool standouts will become impact players in 2015.
Click below for a video of the Cabool Bulldogs pre-season interview!
-- Last year was a resurgent year for the Cabool Bulldogs.
Coach: Jacob Brookshire (4th year)
2014 record: 6-6
Players to watch: (QB/LB) Tanner Barnes, (OL/DL) Duncan Green, (LB) Tray Wiggs, (RB) Caleb Manning
Junior Caleb Manning will receive the bulk of the carries for the Bulldogs, while Duncan Green will look to lead both the offensive and defensive lines.
“He’s stepping up and trying to replace three of four running backs that we lost and has done a great job,” said Brookshire. “His brother was a great running back for us and his junior year he kind of turned the page and that’s what we are hoping he does. He’s put in the work to be where he’s at and we’re going to lean on him quite a bit.
"Duncan started to come on last year and really had a nice run for us at the end of the year on the offensive and defensive line. He’s gotten a lot stronger in the weight room and so far has had a great summer, had a really good camp at Holden. We are expecting him to lead us up front.”
Seniors Tray Wiggs (117 tackles, 7 TFL) and Jared Luerssen will also play bigger roles this fall.
Despite the losses, Brookshire is still confident in this group of kids and the progress made in last year’s breakout season and is hopeful this team can continue to move forward and grow into one of the elite programs in the SCA.
“We obviously lost a lot of good kids from last year, had a move and an ACL tear early, so we’re going to be replacing quite a few kids,” said Brookshire. “But the kids have high expectations and we have high expectations for them. They’ve been working hard in the offseason and it’s what we want to continue.
"Mountain Grove, Ava, Mountain View are going to be at the top year in and year out and that’s where we strive to be. Hopefully at some point we can be the team that everyone else is trying to catch; that’s our goal.”
Cabool opens the 2015 campaign at home against Ash Grove on Aug. 21.
News Article By: Ozarks Sports Zone