Year two under the Farrell Shelton is about to take off and this season has all the makings to be special one for the Kirkwood community. The Pioneer players have feasted for this opportunity throughout the offseason.
“More kids bought into it than last year and hopefully it benefits this fall,” Shelton said. We have some good players coming back, but at the same time we know that (Chaminade) return their whole team that went to the Class 5 state championship, so it means very little how many we have coming back in comparison to them.”
That’s the only thing that the Pioneers have been focusing on for some time this week for sure. Chaminade is ranked No. 1 in the GSV large school rankings and Kirkwood is right behind them at No. 2. Shelton’s crew and the whole of Kirkwood is ready to host the undisputed game of the week this Friday.
“It’s going to be good for the schools and the community. It’ll be good, I know Chaminade will be there to play and hopefully we can get our group together. The thing you have to sell to the kids is it’s one game, but that’s what’s difficult about football is you only get ten. We put in all that summer, put in this time now things might happen, but what we have to do as coaches is to make sure we’re prepared 24 hours and then move to our second game.”
Kirkwood has one of the best offenses in Missouri and it all starts with quarterback, Reece Goddard, who can do a little bit of everything. The six-foot, two inch signal caller threw for 1,878 yards with 17 touchdowns and ran for 950 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“He’s one of those kids that as a coach you have to pinch yourself. He is the epitome of a quarterback coach. He can literally tell all 11 guys, on every play, what they’re supposed to do. He’s very special.”
If Goddard thinks like a coach, wouldn’t he be calling an audible every now and again without consulting the coach?
“I think he does anyway. There’s things built in for Reece that we’ll allow him some freedom. This year he’s earned that right to let loose a little bit, but he knows his confines of the offense. He knows that the most important thing for him is the next play.”
Goddard is almost spoiled for choice with his target options. First there’s leading receiver, Joseph Jordan III, who obtained 796 yards and six touchdowns. On the side of the field is Tahj Telfair, who no one knew about, on the national scale, but is now a highly recruited prospect who had a breakout summer. Telfair caught 22 passes for 441 yards and six touchdowns.
“I’m so proud of them,” Shelton said. “They’ve grown up so much since last year. They came in and weren’t really sure about each other, but they really bought in. They’re special receivers and bought in, but they’ve really matured as young men. Their senior season means a lot to them.”
More options include, Travion Mosby, David Young, and Micah Makuta.
At the moment, the running back position is up in the air to the point of a committee put in place.
“Right now it’s by committee. There’s Durron Clay, Cornell Young, Kenny Scarborough, and Tyreik Lewis. There’s just different interchangeable parts that coach Brinkwell will move around. We’ll probably use different formations for each kid just so we can highlight what they specialize in.”
Different formations throughout the offense will be implemented as a whole.
“That’ll be our thing this year, a lot of different formations, but the concepts are going to be the same. Just trying to do what we do well.”
The offensive has reloaded its arsenal of shields after taking some graduation losses.
“We lost some good kids last and we got some seniors working hard, and when you have seniors that it means something to them, especially this offensive line, you know that you’re going to get 100% out of them every play. We’ll keep our offensive line intact and then we’ll rotate kids on defense, but our motto is we’re going to play great defense, special teams, we’re going to run the ball and try to play field position. The other things we can control is turnovers and penalties.”
Kirkwood’s defense allowed 14 points a game last season, will look to do more of the same this year with Ivan Barnett at the helm at linebacker. The Ball State commit registered 78 tackles, four sacks and recovered five fumbles last season.
“Ivan was the baby last year under Luke Lowry. This year it’s Ivan’s defense and he’s really stepped up and had a real good spring. He’s very explosive, a good athlete, and again another senior that this senior year means something him.”
This is a well oiled bunch of Pioneers that can do great things and have all the tools to be as explosive, like a typical country club Fourth of July fireworks display. They will give headaches to opposing defensive coordinators before Friday nights and we’ll see how good they will be against Chaminade’s big and nasty defense. Kirkwood is the top dog going into the vaunted Suburban South, which will produce a joyful game every day of the week. A big question is can they get past a Kansas City area school in the playoffs? How will they manage the offense on nightly basis? Will the defense do enough to support the offense? Some of those will be answered after week one. Undefeated isn’t quite a conservative guess for their record, but it’s expected from quite a few corners throughout Kirkwood.