The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

July 10, 2012

Joplin breaks in new wide receiving corps

A new offensive scheme has begun to take shape during Joplin High School’s summer football workouts that began this week.

A precision, ball-control passing game that emphasizes quickness was refined during the Eagles’ 7-on-7 passing league and has carried over into summer practice, Eagles head coach Chris Shields said.

The Eagles are looking for replacements for their entire receiving corps, including Dayton Whitehead, a second-team Class 6 all-state selection who signed with Pittsburg State.

“I’m proud of the progress our guys have made,” Shields said. “In the 7-on-7 league, you see some different fronts and different schemes.

“Every year, you tweak and wrinkle a little bit,” he said. “We don’t have a true No. 1 like Dayton, but it’s a solid group and they’re just getting their timing down with Gabe.”

Senior Gabe Sachetta, who returns as the starter at quarterback, is learning a new approach along with a group of receivers who lack varsity experience.

“We have a lot of new kids we’re working with,” Sachetta said. “It’s a big step from junior varsity to varsity. We’re getting our timing down, and 7-on-7 is helping us out a lot.”

Among the new targets Sachetta is looking for are Gavin Jones, a junior who has limited varsity experience; Justin Westerman, a converted cornerback; Tamerik Branham, a sophomore, and Terrell Gilmore, who was a junior varsity running back last season.

“A lot of the guys are new,” said Abe Hueller, a starter at tight end last season who also is learning a new position as a fullback. “It’s a young group and I’m liking them.”

The Eagles summer workouts take place in the mornings, with 7-on-7 passing league competition Monday afternoons at Junge Field. Joplin and Carl Junction each have two teams in the league, along with one each from McAuley Catholic, Carthage, Miami and Afton.

Plans for the Eagles’ more flexible offense began to take shape last spring, Sachetta said. “We had some get-togethers late in the school year,” he said. “Last year, it was rough. We didn’t have enough plays. I feel a lot more confident with our plays now. Now our plays are working a lot better.”

Leading rusher Chris Payton-Barba returns in the backfield, where he could line up at times with Hueller or senior linebacker Adam St. Peter, who Shields is looking at this summer at tight end.

“Things change when you put the pads on,” Shields said. “When you get these linemen in there, it flips the other way so you have to keep it in perspective. That’s the biggest benefit of 7-on-7.”

The Eagles, who travel to Rogers (Ark.) on Thursday for a one-day camp in pads, worked out Tuesday afternoon against the Iola (Kan.) Tornadoes, who were on their way back from a camp at Ozark.

“It’s just a chance to compete against another team,” Shields said.

Joplin has a football camp scheduled for the week of July 23. Formal two-a-day practices begin Aug. 6.

“We talked last year about getting normalcy, but there was nothing normal about it,” Shields said. “This year, we can just play football.”

 

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