The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 13, 2013

Chetopa, Oswego picked to win Three Rivers divisions

By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor

PITTSBURG, Kan. — A common thread spoken by Three Rivers League football coaches on Monday afternoon was how pleased they were with their players’ work during the summer.

“Mainly for us, we wanted to do a lot of competitions,” new Oswego head coach Travis Hurley said. “We got in the weight room ... we’d break up into teams and do some different competitions ... guys were getting better and pushing each other.

“We had a 7-on-7 league at Parsons. That was good for us, gave us a lot of reps. Being new this year, having a new offense and new defense, it was good to get reps. Then we went to Coach (Phil) Hobbs’ team camp (at Northeast). We went full-contact there and kind of ironed out some problems we had in the first couple of days of pads. We’re ready to hit the ground running next week.”

Chetopa went to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for a team camp.

“You can have a camp at home against your own kids,” Green Hornets coach Sean Price said. “You really don’t know how good they are until they face competition because little Joe is going to whip Billy because he’s been whipping him his whole life.

“You go down to Oklahoma team camp, they don’t care. They don’t know where Chetopa is to begin with. They are going to hit us, so we have to get after it. We can start seeing the character of our kids a little bit, who’s going to work and who we can count on.”

Chetopa (8-man) and Oswego (11-man) are the unanimous No. 1 picks in the coaches preseason polls, announced during the preseason luncheon sponsored by KSHQ (100.7 FM).

“It puts a target on our back a little bit,” Price said, “but we return a lot of kids. We’re still young though, and I really think our best years are ahead of us.

“It (preseason No. 1 ranking) puts a little chip on our shoulders maybe. We’ll work each week very hard to stay up there.”

Just four points separated the other five teams in the league.

Uniontown and St. Paul tied for second with 13 points, Crest had 11 and Pleasanton and Marmaton Valley each received nine points.

“Last year it was loaded,” Price said. “The coaches do a good job. I’ve never seen an 8-man game before I got this job, and it’s still a learning experience for me a little bit.

“There are a lot of tough kids in this league. These towns live off football. On Friday nights doors close and they go watch and support their team.”

Jayhawk-Linn and Northeast trail Oswego in the 11-man poll.

“Expectations are high,” Hurley said. “That’s always a good thing, being picked first. It means a target is on our back, but it’s good to have high expectations.”

Hurley was head coach at Erie in 2010-11 before serving as offensive coordinator at Labette County last year.

“I’m familiar with the league a little bit,” he said. “We played Northeast when I was at Erie. We played Jayhawk-Linn as well.”