Rebuilding isn’t a word that’s in Seneca Head Coach Dan Scheible’s daily usage.
Oh, it’s in his vocabulary, but he is reluctant to use it when describing his 2014 Seneca Indians varsity squad.
“I just don’t like to use that term,” he said in a recent interview. “I would rather say inexperienced than rebuilding.”
Last year, the Indians went 6-3 in the regular season to place third in the Big 8 conference, and had an 11-4 record overall. The Indians also took home the Class 3 district title, and placed second in the state championships, falling to Maryville. The squad last year was led by 10 seniors with extensive experience, including quarterback Payton Rawlins and running back Braxton Graham.
Scheible said this year’s squad was more inexperienced, as unproven sophomores and juniors will be counted on to fill the positions vacated due to graduation. He said much of the summer involved strength and conditioning programs to toughen these young players.
Scheible said he has rarely mentioned the 2013 Indians in practice.
“Every individual has a different personality and each team is its own deal,” he said. “I put on the board this summer ‘2013 is over. You’re the 2014 team. What are you going to do?’ ”
Scheible acknowledged as long as he’s coach of the Indians, the shadow of the 2013 season would probably linger over the squad. But he said the team wasn’t gong to dwell on its past, but look ahead to the future and play to the best of their ability. This will start next Friday, as the Indians face the Monett Cubs on the road.
“There are no W/Ls in playing well,” he said. “We’re going to go there to play well, and let the chips fall where they may. We know Monett is very motivated. We’re going over there to try to win victories, but to also play well.”
One of the big questions, the coach said, was who was going to be the field general for the Indians this year, as Rawlins graduated and is now playing football at Northeastern State. Jacob Walker and Derek Burr are two returning starters with experience at quarterback.
“Jacob Walker started 14 games on defense last year. Last year, he was our fullback, tight end and our backup quarterback,” the head coach said. “Jacob’s going to be a good player for us. He’s the real deal. Derek Burr is going to be our quarterback. He’s all these things and has the most important position on the field.”
Meanwhile three offensive linemen with time logged on the field will return to the Indians: Alec Ikerd, Brent Hill and Nic Granger, who will be playing right guard.
“Nic’s a big kid, 300 pounds,” said Scheible. “I challenged him (Tuesday) to start playing like a 300 pounder.”
Scheible said the Big 8 conference always offers a tough schedule, and this year is no exception. After the season opener at Monett, the Indians face Lamar, Mt. Vernon at home before going back on the road to face Aurora, East Newton and a non-conference game at Nevada. Then it’s back to Seneca for contests with McDonald County and Carl Junction before heading back on the road for the regular season finale with Cassville.
“I think the first two will be tough,” Scheible said. “Monett has a big senior class and experience. Lamar is Lamar. It will be interesting with Mt. Vernon. Tommy Cox always does a good job with both offense and defense. Aurora should be a good football team. We had last played Nevada here in 2011 in a non-conference game. Nevada was a .500 team a year ago. McDonald County, we’ve played them every year I’ve been here. They’re in our conference now and have hired some coaches. Carl Junction, [Head Coach Doug] Buckmaster does a good job. And Cassville is back in their old spot. For a lot of years, they were the last game of the season.”
For those who are counting, the Indians have five road games this season, four contests at home.
“We need to be in one of the top places in district to get a home game,” Scheible said, “so we can be 5 and 5.”
Schedule (kickoff is 7 p.m.)
Today Jamboree Joplin (with Seneca, Joplin and Webb City)
8/22 Monett Away
8/29 Lamar Home
9/5 Mt. Vernon Home
9/12 Aurora Away
9/19 East Newton Away
10/3 McDonald County Home
10/10 Carl Junction Home
Oct. 17 Cassville Away
Oct. 24 District First Round (TBA)