Orrick’s new football coach, Nick Chapman, is only 31, but it’s fitting given the young roster he inherits.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Chapman, a former Belton assistant, hopes some youthful exuberance will return to the Bearcats, who won consecutive Missouri Class 1 championships in 2007 and 2008, and regain prominence after back-to-back 1-9 campaigns.
“They are a pretty proud program from the past,” Chapman said. “There is some tradition there, so we’re trying to build that back to where we know it can be.”
Newcomer Dean Opoka, a junior who hasn’t played football since eighth grade, takes over at quarterback. He will also play strong safety on defense.
“He’ll be out there managing the game and controlling the guys,” Chapman said. “Even though he hasn’t played in a few years, he’s a pretty good leader and the guys respect him.”
Fortunately, he’s got some experience around him, especially on the offensive line — junior left guard Tyler Crow, a three-year starter, senior right tackle Bryce Wheeler and junior center Colton Guthrie.
Speedy junior Lane Barker also returns at running back with another speed threat, sophomore Bryar Martin, back at wide receiver. Big things are also expected from freshman fullback Alex Stockton, who will play an even bigger role on defense.
Seniors Riley Bunch (right guard) and Cody Spark (left tackle) round out the offensive line, while junior wide receiver Colorado Cope, a North Platte transfer, junior tight end Merl Lebo round out the skill-position starters.
Defensively, Crow, Guthrie and Wheeler return on the three-man line with Martin returning at cornerback and Barker back at free safety.
It’s Stockton who must emerge as the leader at inside linebacker.
“Even though he’s a freshman, he makes the calls on the defense,” Chapman said. “It’s a lot of pressure, but he’ll be a good player eventually.”
Bunch will start at the other inside linebacker spot with Cope and Lebo starting outside. Junior Austin Clark steps in at the second cornerback spot.