QUAPAW — The rebuild of the Afton Eagle football team is under way.
The Eagles, who suffered heavy graduation losses after winning a Class A state title last season, found out where they’re at in a scrimmage here Friday, Aug. 17.
“We did good in the first part of the scrimmage,” said Afton head coach Fred Peery.
He succeeds Zach Gardner, who now is head coach at Miami.
“The second part we didn’t do so good. I think we got wore down.
Even when we were running a lot of ‘2s,’ our ‘1s’ were still going.”
The Eagles suited up 19 only players but Peery is hoping to have 25 players once school gets rolling.
Brett Fuser is filling the shoes of all-stater Wil Amos, now at Emporia State (Kansas) University.
“I’ve told people ‘gosh, he (Fuser) is a pretty good quarterback.’ He is a pretty good athlete,” Peery said. “He could start on several teams around here.”
Peery said rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines has been a priority.
“We are very young and very inexperienced,” he said.
This was the Eagles only scrimmage. They now have two weeks to prepare for their season opener against Barnsdall.
Conversely, where Afton went unbeaten in 2017, Quapaw was winless in 10 games.
“It was a good scrimmage for us,” Quapaw head coach Chris Cawyer said. “I am just thankful Afton came to scrimmage us.”
If not, the Wildcats would have had to travel a long distance to have a tune-up, Cawyer said.
“We came out nervous. We were tentative,” Cawyer said. “Later, the light just kind of came on and they played grill and growl during that 20-minute clock.”
Like their counterparts at Afton, the Wildcats will have only one scrimmage to get ready for the 2018 season.
They will play a Week Zero game with the Seneca JV on Monday, Aug. 27.
After that, Quapaw will be idle until Sept. 7 when they host Wyandotte.
“That’s really why we wanted to do as much as we did,” Cawyer said. “Usually you don’t do as much that first scrimmage. Coach Peery said the same thing. They have the Ottawa County Fair, so they don’t have another scrimmage. We wanted to give as much playing time as we could as far as conditioning and seeing what did wrong and what we did right.
“The eye in the sky doesn’t lie. We will show the film to the kids Monday and get ready to go for our first game.”
Conditioning was the biggest concern for Commerce head coach Steve Moss after the Tigers’ scrimmage at Chelsea.
It originally was scheduled to be played at Commerce but was moved at the last minute after the big rainfall total over the past several days.
“We got gassed a little bit,” Moss said. “That’s to be expected this early, but we’ve just got to get into shape so we can go fast when the games get here.”
For the first time in four years, the Tigers will have an extra week to prepare for their opener on Sept. 31 at Adair.
The past two years, they’ve played Week Zero against Sarcoxie, Missouri (2016-17) and Yale (2014-15).
“I liked it for a while, but really thought this was better if we went back to having two scrimmages before starting,” Moss said.
Moss said in last year’s game at Sarcoxie, at least six starters missed considerable playing time in the second half with leg cramps.
“After that night I said ‘we’re not doing Week Zero any more,’” he said.
“We did pretty good, but we’ve got a lot of stuff to work on just because we’ve got a new offense and defense put in,” Wyandotte coach Zac Ross. “The kids did well.”
Ross said a number of younger players stepped up.
“It’s good to have two scrimmages because each time you will probably find something else to work on before that first game,” said Ross, who is entering his first season as the Bears’ head coach.
He succeeds Brad Homer, who now is an assistant coach at Miami.
Wyandotte hosts Commerce in its final scrimmage on Thursday, Aug. 23.
The Bears open the 2018 season on Aug. 31 at home with Fairland.
The Owls moved their scrimmage to Chouteau because of the storms earlier in the week.
“It was pretty boring,” Fairland head coach Kent Marshall said. “We were hoping to come out of it a little more settled. The one time we opened it up on offense, we took the ball down and scored.”
The Owls host Kansas in a scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 24 then open the season at Wyandotte the following Friday.