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Bush, Airedales open spring drills 5/4/22

Bush, Airedales open spring drills

By Kevin Taylor 

Alma Schools 

 

Alma coach Rusty Bush has a key piece of the cog back in place for the upcoming season with the emergence of Joe Trusty. 

 

But good quarterbacks need good receivers. Bush has a couple of kids he expects to pick up the slack with the graduation of Conner Stacy. 

 

Alma begins spring practice on Wednesday. 

 

“We’ve got to create some depth at receiver,” Bush said. “Anytime you’re coming into spring, these kids that were JV (junior varsity) guys as 11th graders, it’s time to see if they’re ready to be a Friday night guy. There’s a lot of development that goes on between December and now, as far as their body types and gaining weight. 

 

“Now it’s time to see what they’ve got.”

 

After a slow start last season, Trusty settled into offensive coordinator Chris Smith’s scheme by completing 60 percent of his passes and throwing for almost 2,200 yards. 

 

He broke the school record for completions (32) and yards passing (347) during the Airedales’ season finale with Farmington. 

 

Stacy caught 84 passes last season (second-most behind Brayden Johnson) for a single-season record of 1,306 yards and seven touchdowns. The Airedales aren’t just losing Stacy, but BriLee White (eight TD receptions and 40 receptions for 593 yards) as well. 

 

“Again, we lost Conner (graduation), the guy that was the majority of our offense last year,” Bush said. “We’ve got to have guys step up. Derek Hatcher’s back. I think he’s going to be a great wide receiver for us. Drake Stogsdill, he’s a young kid we saw flashes from last season. He has really worked his tail off this spring to be in a position to be a good player.”

 

Matthew Schlegel caught 14 passes for 112 yards in 2021. Hatcher had 12 receptions for 105 yards. Noyes and Shawn Rankins caught six and five passes, respectively, in 2021. 

 

Stogsdill returned kicks last season. 

 

The biggest piece to the puzzle may be the return of Reagan Birchfield. He played in just three games last season before missing time with a knee injury. Along with Trusty, who ran for 554 yards, the Airedales also boast Brady Noyes. He and Trusty combined for 1,002 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. 

 

“Brady carried the majority of our running game,” Bush said. “Plus, you’ve got four or five young kids who are going to help us on Friday night. We’ve got to make sure they’re ready. One thing about being at Alma, that first game against Van Buren is a big eye-opener for a 15 or 16-year-old kid facing 18-year-olds.”

 

Israel Towns-Robinson is among a handful of freshmen Bush is eager to see work. 

 

“Physically, he’s there; he’s over 200 pounds and he’s just 15 years old,” Bush said. “He’s got a bright future ahead of him, as well as several of those kids in that ninth-grade class. 

 

“There’s a chance we could start four or five of those kids defensively.”

 

The Airedales have spent the spring trying to create depth, something Bush and Co. have struggled with the last two seasons. 

 

“I want to get to where we can put a lot of people on the field,” Bush said. “You’d like to be able to play people one way. I don’t think we’ll be in a position to do that, but we’d like to get enough guys prepared and ready to play on Friday night and create that depth to play in the 5A-West.”