By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Even in a summer 7-on-7 passing league, Carl Junction head coach Doug Buckmaster wants his players to have a Friday night frame of mind.
Buckmaster has returned to high school football after two seasons as offensive coordinator at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College at Miami. He had his players sprinting on and off the field Monday during games against Afton and Southeast at Carl Junction.
“We’ve had a good summer,” Buckmaster said. “We had our camp in the first week of June. Our kids really progressed in one week’s time. The biggest thing is we have to start expecting more out of ourselves.
“We want to play fast,” he said. “We want our kids to understand fast tempo, not just once in a while, but all the time. They have to learn to compete every snap of the ball. The best teams, when they face adversity, they overcome it. That’s what we need to be able to do.”
The Mercy Sports Care 7-on-7 league has given Buckmaster the opportunity to evaluate Carl Junction’s returning players along with younger players who will compete for playing time.
So far, he said he has found several candidates for what figures to be a deep corps of receivers. Matt Magee, Andrew Reed and Tanner McMurtry, who missed last season because of an injury, will be part of the mix.
Christian Pittman, who will play cornerback on defense, and Reece Tholen, an outside linebacker on defense, could see playing time as receivers as well, he said.
“We have seven or eight kids who can do a lot of things,” Buckmaster said. “One thing we’ve probably spent too much time on is reteaching, whether it’s offense or defense. It’s just a lack of focus. When we’re being coached, we need to listen.”
Leading candidates who have emerged at tight end include Chris Whelan, Kris Burd and Alex McMullen. “We will play with multiple tight-end sets,” he said.
Even at quarterback, Buckmaster will have choices to make. Chase Johnston, Dustin Satterlee, Braydon Allen and Ryan Devore are under consideration, he said.
“We have a lot of depth at the quarterback position,” he said. “We have a lot of great kids over here. They’ve bought in and they’re busting their tails. We have a lot of growth potential. They can play at a higher level than what they think they’re capable of.”
Although linemen don’t participate in the 7-on-7 league, he said he has been monitoring their progress at camps and in the weight room and has been pleased with what he has seen.
“Our big kids up front have had a very good summer,” he said. “I’ve been very pleased with how hard those kids have worked, especially on the offensive side. That’s where champions are built. We need a few more up front on defense.”
Buckmaster, who has been a head coach at Riverton, Carthage and Joplin, said he’s looking forward to coaching from the sidelines on Friday nights again.
“There’s nothing like high school football,” he said. “People support high school football. I don’t care if it’s Class A or Class 6A, there’s atmosphere in high school football. It’s going to be great.
“We open up at Webb City,” he said. “I don’t know where they stand with their winning streak, but what they’ve done is amazing. I’m looking forward to playing at Webb City with that atmosphere. That’s high school football right there.”