It’s going to be a new look for the Salem High School football team this season. With a new, youthful head coach on the sideline and a slew of new, youthful players on the field that’s a certainty.
The Dylan Wyrick Era of Tiger football begins Aug. 12 when the squad opens preseason practice. Salem will practice from 3:30-6 p.m. Monday through Friday of next week. On Aug. 17 the Tigers will hold its annual Blue-White Scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. on the game field.
Wyrick replaces Brian McNamee as Tiger head coach. McNamee resigned his football coaching duties, although he remains a teacher on staff as well as track head coach and weight room coordinator.
After playing in the St. James Jamboree Aug. 23, the Tigers return to St. James for the season-opener Aug. 30.
Salem is the first head coaching job for Wyrick. A 2010 graduate of Potosi High School, where he was an all-state linebacker and all-state running back, Wyrick spent the previous four seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater.
Last year the Salem Tigers lost the last four games and six of their final seven to finish with a 3-7 overall record and 2-5 league mark. Three of those losses were by a combined seven points.
Most of the starters from last season were lost to graduation and Wyrick has just three returning varsity starters this fall.
After being hired late in the offseason, Wyrick has gotten to know his young squad the last several weeks during the Tiger team camp as well as full-contact camps at Sullivan in June and at Farmington in July.
“It’s definitely been a process,” Wyrick said. “I’ve been driving over here (from Potosi) five days a week over the summer to get to know these guys, to see who is dedicated and who is not. Our assistant coaches have been good as far as getting me up to speed. It was a good road map going into camp in June.
“I think, No. 1, this group is coachable. They give effort and they want to learn; get better. The core of these kids love each other and those are the things I’ve been pushing this summer. We’ve got kids playing positions they’ve never played before and kids who haven’t played since middle school. We’ve got a new offensive scheme, a new defensive scheme, a new head coach…the kids have had to adjust as well. And by the end of our last contact camp things were starting to click and the kids are playing for each other.”
According to Wyrick three varsity starters back include senior Brett Fore, junior Brandon White and junior Caden Camden.
A huge loss for the Tigers is that of senior two-way starting lineman Kolson Seay. Seay, an all-district and All-SCA defensive lineman who was also an all-state thrower in track, is to have surgery for labral tears in both hips and is out for the football season.
Wyrick hopes to rely on a power ground game on offense, running from I-formation, pro and wishbone sets. On defense the Tigers figure to run from a 4-2-5 formation.
Personnel in place coming out of the summer work and contact camps:
• Sophomore Garrett Connell, who played a key role for the Tiger defense last fall, becomes the Tiger quarterback this year. Entering practice the fullback is senior Brenden Smith or sophomore Jimmy Barton while Camden is at tailback.
• Junior Dawson Mock and sophomore Luke Campbell are among the wideouts while senior Carter Chilton and sophomore Bradlee Gover are at tight end. Chilton can also play some wideout.
• On the offensive line sophomore Nathan Pyle is at left tackle, sophomore Hunter Shaw at left guard, junior Earl Jarvis at center, White at right guard and Fore at right tackle.
• Defensively, White and Chilton are at end, Pyle and Jarvis at tackle, Smith and Gover at inside linebacker, Barton at outside linebacker, Mock and Campbell at cornerback and Camden and Connell at safety. Sophomore Kaden Coffman also figures to be in the secondary rotation.
“We’ve not been running a ton of option right now,” Wyrick said. “We’re sticking to power, counter and a little play-action. We’re a multiple offense and have a young quarterback (Connell) who is the best athlete on the team. He can run it and throw it.
“We’ll be a 4-2-5 defense. Salem traditionally has run a three-man front and walked backers up. We play a lot of power, option teams and having an extra big guy on the line makes a big difference. Our coaches know that three-front well, and if we want to bring an extra d-back in, we can do that still.”
Wyrick knows there are going to be growing pains, but feels down the road it will pay dividends.
“They’re coming along a lot quicker than I expected, because they’re very coachable and give effort,” he said. “We’re looking at kids who are very inexperienced – just young. They’ve still got a lot of growing up to do. With new assignments, new schemes – that’s a lot to throw at young kids. Some of them don’t know how to tackle yet, or what basic schemes are.
“The two contact camps gave us a good look. That varsity experience, having some success, putting the ball in the endzone. That made me feel a lot better.”
Here are the Salem 2019 schedules:
(All Games 7 p.m.)
Aug. 23 – St. James Jamboree
Aug. 30 – at St. James
Sept. 6 – Dexter
Sept. 13 – at Houston*
Sept. 20 – Thayer*
Sept. 27 – at Ava*
Oct. 4 – Willow Springs*
Oct. 11 – Mtn. Grove*
Oct. 18 – at Mtn. View Liberty*
Oct. 25 – at Cabool*
Nov. 1 – District 1st round
Sept. 3 – St. James, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 – at Cabool, 6 p.m.
Sept. 16 – at Houston, 6 p.m.
Sept. 23 – Thayer, 6 p.m.
Sept. 30 – at Ava, 6 p.m.
Oct. 7 – Willow Springs, 6 p.m.
Oct. 14 – Mtn. Grove, 6 p.m.
Oct. 21 – at Mtn. View Liberty, 6 p.m.
Sept. 12 – at Willow Springs, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 19 – Mtn. Grove, 5:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 – at Mtn. View Liberty, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 3 – Cabool, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 10 – Houston, 5:30 p.m.
Oct. 17 – at West Plains, 5:30 p.m.