PRESCOTT- A good season came to an end at Bradshaw Mountain High School for the 2016 Prescott High School Badgers football team, as the rival Bears beat the Badgers and bumped them from the playoff picture. The team ended the campaign with a 6-4 record overall, while going 4-2 in section.
“We had a good year but we weren’t shooting for good, we were shooting for great,” Prescott High School Football Head Coach Michael Gilpin said.“We ended up with good and our arch rival knocked us out of the playoff hunt. We got to get over that hurdle. It’s just that simple.”
The 2016 Badgers rushing game was one of the best in school history, but the passing attack wasn’t up to the ground game level. This has been a point of emphasis over the summer for Gilpin as the team prepares for the upcoming season.
“Problem is when you just can’t lineup and bulldoze a team, you got to be able to throw the ball effectively,” Gilpin said. “A couple of our losses were directly predicated on our inability to make plays in the passing game. We have been working on fixing that for six months now and I think we are getting ready to turn the corner on that and we will be a very well balanced explosive offense.”
The team is returning a number of standout players on offense from last season. Senior quarterback turned running back Ryan Greene will look to build off the 2016 season, as he lead the Badgers in rushing yards with 906. Junior quarterback Austin Clark bursted onto the scene with six touchdowns and 263 yards in three games at the end of the season, while senior wide receiver John Chauffeur also returns after finishing second in receiving yards with 203.
“It’s the same offense but we got a lot of new plays and a lot of new opportunities,” Chaffeur said. “Offense is more explosive. You are going to see a lot of new things out of it.”
Greene started the year as quarterback last season but moved to running back following injuries to two of the team’s backs. Now as the team’s primary running back, it has allowed Greene to focus on just the ground game.
“I know I was just going to go straight to running back this season,” Greene said. “I didn’t have to worry about quarterback at all so anytime that I needed to work on something, I knew I just had to work on my running, cut game.”
Meanwhile, with experience as quarterback under Clark’s belt, he looks to continue building this year.
“It was awesome to get to start as a sophomore,” Clark said. “It lets me go into this season knowing how I am going to deal under pressure.”
Just like the offense, the defense also returns a portion of their standouts as well. Rodney Pitts, Spencer Hall and Colton Amos achieved over thirty tackles each last season.
“We got a pretty stacked defense,” Amos said. “We got a good middle linebacker, we got a good secondary also and our d-line is looking really tough.”
The Badgers defense is young, only having five players play in least nine of the team’s ten games last season, but Gilpin believes the defense is made up of playmakers.
“We got a lot of guys out there that are going to make some noise,”Gilpin said. “That defense is going to go out there and win some football games for us.”
The Badgers are an experienced team but the squad only has a few seniors. If the Badgers are to be successful, Gilpin says the young players will have to get caught up to speed.
“Even though we have a lot of experience, we don’t have a lot of seniors,” Gilpin said. “We got to get the young integrated into the program and they have to contribute. If they do, I think we are going to be a pretty good football team.”
After months of practice, the goals are set for this Badger team. Now it’s just a matter of going out on the field when the Friday night lights shine bright and performing week in and week out.
“I think we are going to make state,” Chaffeur said. “We have the team, we have the coaches and we have the spirit. If we believe it and take it week by week, we can go all the way in my opinion.”
The season begins Friday night, August 25th, at Prescott High School against Marcos De Niza. Kickoff is 7pm.