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Newcomers impress coaching staff 5/24/22

Newcomers impress coaching staff

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 

 

The cool breezes that were anticipated to engulf Alma’s Citizens Bank Field at Airedale Stadium late in the afternoon never came. 

 

But that didn’t mean the Airedales weren’t without a cool breeze of their own. 

 

Quarterback Joe Trusty dazzled spectators with a series of darts to newcomers Drake Stogsdill and Ian Rhoades. Veterans Derek Hatcher and Matthew Schlegel did their part as well. 

 

Alma coach Rusty Bush left the field following Alma’s spring game with a smile on his face. He wasn’t alone, either. 

 

“I’m telling you, as good as Conner Stacy was, I feel like we’re as deep at receiver as we’ve been since I’ve been here,” Alma offensive coordinator Chris Smith said. “We had a couple of good ones last year, but if they went down, we didn’t have any backups.”

 

Stogsdill and Rhoades are hoping to change that.

 

“He’s (Stogsdill) going to be really good,” Trusty said. “He’s going to be our go-to receiver this year. He’s going to make some big plays.”

 

“We’ve got three (receivers) that I could start against VB (Van Buren) and I’d be happy to go,” Smith said. 

 

There are others, too. 

 

“(Jackson) Daily is really good and (Byron) Standridge is really coming on,” Smith said. “He made some catches earlier in the week that would get your attention. He’s so reliable; we can count on him to run good routes.”

 

The Airedales figure to be better at running back, too. 

 

“I really feel like Carlos Gonzalez could be one of the best backs in this conference,” Smith said. “We moved him to the ‘White’ team early in the week, and he was getting 10 to 15 yards a carry (against the starting defense). I really feel good about the skill players and the depth we’ve got.”

 

Along with Gonzalez, Israel Towns-Robinson, Brady Noyes and Dylan Flanagan will get their share of carries. “Dylan’s gotten really thick, and he’s just as fast as those other guys,” Smith said. “Our skill (players), I feel really good about them.”

 

“It was fun to get out here and get football season started, especially on the offensive side of it - we have a lot to work on,” Trusty said. “We lost a lot of key guys. (But) I saw some things we can improve on.”

 

Trusty threw for 2,192 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. But his top receivers, Stacy and BriLee White graduated. Much of the offensive line is gone, too. 

 

“Our new offensive line is doing good,” Trusty said. “Our new set of receivers are doing good.”

 

 “It’s always good to get outside and play in front of your friends and family — off-season is a long season,” Bush said. “This will get us going toward our summer workouts. We’ve got our big 7-on-7 day (June 10) coming up. I was really proud of all of our coaches and players.”

 

Defensively, the Airedales are changing fronts and hoping to get quicker. The team allowed 415.7 yards per game in 2021. 

 

But Reagan Birchfield, who missed most of 2021 with an injury, is back at full strength at linebacker. Noyes and Flanagan are back as well. 

 

“We’ve got some guys that do certain things really well,” Bush said. “It’s been a challenge that I’ve given myself and the defensive staff to find what these guys can do well. On any given night, we’re going to be able to give you three or four different fronts. We’re going to build on that this summer.”

 

The Airedales open the season on Aug. 23 against Van Buren.