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Airedale football team ready for off-season 11/17/22

Airedale football team ready for off-season

By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Alma football coach Rusty Bush isn’t among those late arrivers. 


The third-year Airedales football coach hits the bricks early. He’s hopeful a strong off-season will help the team take another step forward in 2023. 


Alma started off-season drills this week, though Bush said the Airedales won’t be officially all in until January. 


“I think the main thing is to continue to grow as a football team,” Bush said. “I think we’ve done that over the last three years. I told the kids, ‘We’re beating the teams that we should … now we’ve got to figure out a way to go beat Harrison, Shiloh Christian, Prairie Grove, and Farmington. 


“All those teams are sitting atop the conference; that’s got to be our focus.”


Alma finished 2022 with six victories and completed the first regular season winning record since 2017. 


But four 5A-West losses to the aforementioned Harrison, Shiloh Christian, Prairie Grove, and Farmington kept the Airedales from the playoffs for the second straight season. 


“We’ve got to put ourselves in position to beat those football teams,'' Bush said. “We’re lifting (weights) right now, but it’s obviously going to start hot and heavy in January.”


Alma will return a number of key offensive holdovers in 2023, including both running backs, Carlos Gonzalez and Israel Towns-Robinson, as well as most of its receivers - Drake Stogsdill, Ian Rhoads, Jackson Daily, and Demetrius Parrish. 


Gonzalez and Towns-Robinson also proved to be good receivers, too, by combining for 16 receptions, 263 yards, and six touchdowns. 


One position the Airedales won’t have back in 2023 is the quarterback position. Senior Joe Trusty had an outstanding two-year run as the team’s quarterback. 


“We’ll start settling in on personnel after the first of the year,” the coach said. “We’ll see what our roster looks like after we add the ninth graders to it, and see where everybody is going to fall. I do feel like this is going to be a team where you see a lot more two-way guys, just because of where our numbers are. 


“But hopefully we can bring some young guys along.”


Alma will have nine offensive holdovers for 2023. “That’s just nine starters; that doesn’t include guys that got significant playing time,” Bush said. “I believe we’ve got five or six coming back defensively, too.”


Alma will have to replace some stellar defenders, including linebackers Reagan Birchfield and safety Brady Noyes. 


Senior edge rusher Dillon Flanagan, who had 11 quarterback sacks, will also be graduating.


Among the defensive holdovers are Paul Eubanks, Cash Farris, Trey Bowen, Ashton Chanhnouvong, and Kaydin Minshull.