2019 C-T AREA HS FOOTBALL PREVIEWS: Veteran coach Laffoon emerges from 11-years hiatus to guide Bobcats' fortunes
BRAYMER, Mo. — Braymer High School has turned – at least temporarily – to a familiar area football veteran to try to get its fortunes turned around in 2019.
It won’t be easy.
Years removed from the days of being a very competitive Class 1 11-man program with a steady supply of talent and, often, unusual size for a small school, BHS’ Bobcats have been unable to gain any traction in the latter half of this decade, even with the 2016 switch from 11-man style to 8-man.
With only three victories in 31 games the past three years, including an 0-10 ledger last year that saw multiple games terminated at halftime because of the wide scoreboard margin, Hamilton native Craig Railsback – who took the job on a last-minute basis in 2015 when a would-be new coach backed out and led the ’Cats to a 4-6 mark in the last year of 11-man competition – opted to step aside.
When a search for a (hopefully) long-term replacement failed to produce the desired result, Braymer approached retired area coach Lyle Laffoon, who guided Southwest Livingston’s 8-man program for most of the 1990s, about filling the void for at least this fall. Despite having ended his full-time coaching career nearly 15 years earlier when hit with a serious ailment, he stepped into the breach for a year in a similar situation at Southwest 11 years before, Laffoon agreed.
Braymer can only hope his willingness to offer his experienced perspective to help keep the program alive in the short term leads to the same future Southwest Livingston has had since Laffoon answered the SOS call at Ludlow in 2008. An experienced replacement arrived for 2009 and, with other factors involved, led the Wildcats to four wins before SLHS has registered at least seven wins a season throughout this decade.
He clearly understands the situation – including awareness that the 2019 Braymer schedule begins tonight with the first three foes having compiled a composite 35-7 record last year, but says he’s found the attitude of the 20 players – one of whom is currently injured and not able to play – who turned out for the start of preseason practices vibrant.
“They’ve been doing everything I’ve asked of them,” Laffoon told the C-T recently, “and – you know me – I’m not one for dealing with them straight.”
This year’s all-underclassmen BHS roster does have eight players with some degree of starting experience, including several players – junior RB/DE Parker Shoe, junior E/DB Jake Henry, and sophomore RB Wyatt Kincaid – who were among the few Bobcats who found paydirt last fall.
Joining Shoe as both an offensive and defensive returning starter is sophomore OL/LB Trevor Webb. Also again on hand are OL Jonathan Feil, DLs Hunter Dean and John Allee, and DB Jayden Lewis – juniors all.
Heading into tonight’s home debut against Stanberry, which went 11-2 last year, Laffoon anticipates utilizing sophomore RB Kellen Riegel and E Tyler Kimberling as starters, as well as freshman DL Braden Allred and freshman E Caden Warren.
Others on the squad who might develop into contributors this fall, Laffoon reports, include sophomore Mikey Wittington as a quarterback, juniors Caden Curtis and Ben Hollen on the “D” line, sophomores Carson Brame at offensive end and Connor McCully on the “O” line, and freshmen Ben Jordan at linebacker and Ethan Webber at defensive back.
Half (10) of this year’s Bobcats were not on the team last year. Only one (Kimberling) besides those who started some last year were in uniform in 2018.