A veteran defense and versatile offense will be key for the Owensboro High School football team, who looks to make a statement out of the gate with a rare district game in week one.
There are a few big shoes to fill after losses both to graduation and injuries, but head coach Jay Fallin likes the way his Red Devils are shaping up in the final stages of the preseason.
Leading the Owensboro offense this year will be sophomore quarterback Gavin Wimsatt, who only threw 15 passes last season — completing six for 38 yards and a touchdown.
“Gavin has all the attributes of being a really good quarterback,” Fallin said. “He’s physically talented, he’s a hard worker, he has a great mentality and he’s a good kid. He just lacks experience. He’ll make some mistakes, but that’s ok. That’s part of learning and developing.”
The Red Devils also lost a dynamic running back/wide receiver in Monte Owsley to an offseason injury, though Fallin said expectations are high for those who will step up.
“Replacing Monte’s production will be by committee, but we’ve got every confidence in the guys that are going to fill that void that they’re going to do a great job,” he said. “I know Monte would be the first to say that, too.”
Overall, though, the 2019 Red Devils are an experienced bunch that are hungry for a deep postseason run.
“The enthusiasm and attention to detail is a lot less coach-driven and a lot more player driven, which makes practice a lot more productive, a lot more fun,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys who are seniors and want to have a successful season, so they’re willing to sacrifice and do what it takes in practice to prepare.”
The defense also took at least a temporary hit when junior linebacker Austin Gough suffered an injury in last week’s scrimmage, but Fallin said there are plenty of other veterans who will help lead the team.
Cameron Thompson (51 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries in 2018), Jordan Sorrells (47 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) and Jaiden Greathouse (45 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) lead a group of seniors that Fallin said have a strong desire to win.
“We’re excited about that group and the extra nuance and detail we can use in coaching defensive football with an experienced bunch,” he said. “They’re a very hardworking group who likes to run to the football. That’s 90 percent of the battle on defense.”
Fallin is also confident in his special teams — the Red Devils have a small handful of speedy return specialists as well as a promising kicker in sophomore Max Thurman.
“Max has a strong leg and he’s really worked hard this offseason to develop his accuracy,” Fallin said. “We’re excited about what’s he’s going to do for us.”
Owensboro opens the season on the road against Breckinridge County in a district matchup. The newly aligned Class 5A District 1 is one of the few districts with six teams, so a waiver was granted to allow the teams to play in week one.
Starting in week three, the Red Devils host Owensboro Catholic before going to Apollo then Daviess County for three straight weeks of City-County matchups. After four weeks of district games, Owensboro will host Henderson County on Nov. 1 in the regular season finale.
Fallin said the team has progressed nicely through camp, and though they’re still a work in progress, he’s excited to get the season started.
“Our goal is what it always has been, which is continue to get better every single day and try to win every game,” he said. “Then we want to be playing our best football in November.”