Season Preview: Scott City football team retools offense, focuses on 'D'

Thursday, August 25, 2011
Scott City junior quarterback Jonathan McFall passes against St. Vincent during Friday's jamboree in Scott City. (Laura Simon)

Scott City has new faces at quarterback and running back

The Scott City offense took a big hit with the graduation of Garett Schaefer, who accounted for 51.2 percent of the team's yards last season.

"You don't replace him with one person because he's kind of a unique talent," Rams coach Jim May said. "We're going to replace him with several people. We might be a little bit more unpredictable using more people."

Junior Travis Phillips will step into the running back position. He rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries last season.

"He's strong and he can do just about anything Garett can do," Scott City junior quarterback Jonathan McFall said. "He may not be as fast, but he'll do pretty good."

Scott City senior receiver Austin Atchley caught six touchdown passes during his junior season. (Southeast Missourian file)

Schaefer rushed for 1,401 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Rams ran the ball 368 times and only threw it 146 times, but Scott City must replace four offensive linemen.

"We've got about six guys right now really vying for spots," May said.

McFall saw some action last season. He went 9 of 29 passing for 122 yards and one touchdown.

"He had a broken hand when football started last year, so he got a late start," May said. "He was going to try to compete for the starting spot last year, too. We're pretty confident in Jon's abilities.

"He's going to be a pocket passer. We're going to be a play-action pass type game. He's more of a pocket presence. We're not real deep there, so I don't want him running around."

McFall will have back the Rams' top target from last season. Senior Austin Atchley caught 21 passes for 387 yards and six scores a year ago.

"We've got me and [Zach] Cotner at receiver, and both of us are fast and both of us can catch," Atchley said. "Don't know who you're going to throw to."

Atchley said that working with McFall last season and during the offseason has helped them find a rhythm in the passing game.

"He's pretty good," Atchley said. "He knows where we're going to stop and turn and stuff like that. ... He's been getting pretty good lately. Just that practice."

Senior Hunter Cox wasted little time assessing the Rams' defense.

"A lot better than last year, I can assure you of that," he said. "We've got a lot more speed with the size. We had a lot of size last year, but we're playing a lot smarter this year, I guess you could say. Our defensive line is probably most improved. We've got a lot of linebackers who can come in and hit hard."

The Rams went 2-8 and were outscored 353-224, but Cox said the defense's attitude has changed this season.

"We have a lot of guys who want to stick their nose in instead of kind of running around and arm tackling and trying to knock people down," he said. "We're a lot more prone to run up and hit somebody instead of running at them. Just a lot meaner than we were."

May, who enters his third season at the helm in Scott City, likes the progress his defense has made from last season.

"We have to continue to tackle," he said. "I feel we're better now than we ever were last year, but we were very bad last year. We're going to continue to try to get better and better at that."

May credits his players' dedication in the offseason to the improvement he's seen in the early going.

"The kids are really starting to buy into our system," he said. "We had an unbelievable participation over the summer. These guys have worked really hard and we're ready for results. We're ready to see some wins in the win column for our hard work."

While the players are buying into the system, May said his team is young, so there could be some growing pains.

"We've got a lot of guys that are going to be starting for the first time," he said. "So we have to kind of settle into our roles a little bit."

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