After the first of many days of football camp before the real fun starts in August, Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough had a chance to reflect on the program in his second year as head coach.
Although the Pirates will hit the ground running with the first practice on August 12th, Hough said the turnout in the weight room and 7 on 7 has been good for the most part.
In its first season in the Tri-County Conference last year, Boonville finished tied for second with Southern Boone at 5-2 overall. The Pirates went on to closeout the 2018 season at 6-4 overall in Hough’s first year, which was the first winning season for Boonville since finishing 6-5 in 2012.
This year with most of the team back on both sides of the ball, Boonville should once again be in the top half of the Tri-County Conference along with Blair Oaks and Southern Boone.
Hough said he thinks the potential is there obviously with the number of kids coming back.
“We just have to make sure as coaches we don’t screw it up and then the players have to play to their potential,” Hough said. “Humble and hungry is probably one of the biggest things; respect all fear none. We will just go out and handle our business and control what we can control. Our goal at the end of the day is to compete for a championship in the conference. Short term is to host a district playoff game while long term is to win a district championship. I feel like we have those pieces but it all kind of stair steps its way there. We need to finish our summer strong, get healthy, start the school year, handle our business in the classroom and then just day by day keep going and improving.”
While the district assignments have yet to be released for the 2019 season, Boonville will be watching closely to see if they go west like last year or stay in the central part of the state. Last year, the Pirates went into the district playoffs as the No. 6 seed at 6-3 overall.
Hough said it is what it is as far as where the Pirates go in 2019.
“It’s whoever they put in front of us,” Hough said. “I thought last year to be a No. 6 seed at 6-3 was crazy. But that’s how tough our district was last year with two unbeaten teams in Odessa and Pembroke Hill and then Center, Pleasant Hill and Hogan Prep.”
As far as what the Pirates have been doing to prepare for the upcoming season, Hough said for the month of June the team has basically been lifting and running on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays. He said the coaching staff has been focused more this year on what the kids weaknesses are and do they need work in such areas as hip flexibility, hip mobility and things like that. Where as last year, he said it was a crash course for him and the players.
“We know the kids a little bit better and emphasize the areas we need to work so that’s kind of what June has been,” Hough said.
In addition to lifting and running, the Pirates have also competed in 7 on 7 throughout the summer. That is until Mother Nature decided to take that away with a wet month of June.
Hough said Boonville took a team to St. Dominic in St. Louis and were able to play only three pool games before the weather hit. Then, in Columbia for 7 on 7, the Pirates again got three games in against Cuba, Hickman and Battle-winning two-before the rest of the afternoon was cancelled due to rain.
“We haven’t got to play quite as much 7 on 7 as what we did last year, which is fine, because we return so much from last year’s team, where we kind of know what we got,” Hough said. “Tuesday was our first day of camp so we will be in camp two days this week (Tuesday and Thursday) and then next week we go three days of camp and then we end July with five days of camp. We just kind of stagger into a full week.
“Our goal is to get our kids physically and mentally prepared for the whole grind and that’s kind of where we’re at now with all the basic fundamental stuff. We are starting to do some new things. We return a lot of kids from last year but I feel like to put our best 11 kids on the field we have to change some of our personnel, especially at running back.”
With a spread formation last year on offense, which produced over 3,000 yards and had a 1,000 yard rusher and a 1,000 yard passer, Hough said the game plan is the same this year. He said he wants to spread the ball around.
Leading the charge this year for Boonville is senior running back Avian Thomas, who returns after rushing for over 1,400 yards in 2018.
Hough said Thomas carried the ball anywhere from 24-25 times last year but would like to get that down to 13-14 carries this season. However on the flip side, he said Thomas will be more involved in the passing game and RPO game-run, pass, option-and instead of 1-2 catches per game he will be in that 8-9 range.
“Same thing with Tramell Coleman,” Hough said. “I expect him to get 10-14 carries and 6-9 in catches, and then you have Andrew Wiser, who you are hoping to get 8-10 carries as well. There are going to be a lot of moving pieces and a lot of good players touching the ball. Up front we are replacing some guys from graduation but today being the first day I thought those kids looked pretty good doing some of our basic run game, inside zone and then gap scheme with our trap. We will add counter at the end of this week and then some outside zone game stuff.”
Hough has also been happy with the turnout so far this summer. He said the last time he checked the June attendance was right at 93 percent, which is approximately 57 kids.
“Our goal is 95 percent, which is really good,” Hough said. “That means you are only missing 1-2 kids per day. Anytime you are up above 90 percent, that’s really good. There are a lot of kids participating in basketball and baseball and I am all about getting the kids involved in multiple sports. I feel like I am pretty lenient with the kids as long as they are communicating with me whether they are going to basketball or baseball. I am good with that. I want them to do that in June but now that it’s July and we are camping and installing stuff, in my opinion, it’s really football time now until the last game of the season.”
Although Hough has over 15 years of coaching experience under his belt, he said he is fortunate in his second season at Boonville to return so much from last year. He said the kids know what to expect this season.
“Of course you have to have the reminders and things like that,” Hough said. “June was good, though. Don’t get me wrong there were some guys we would like to have here a little bit more but if they are out doing something to better themselves as an athlete or represent our school, I am all about that. I think on the flip side, this being my second year, I think the kids learned my relationship and how much I appreciate other coaches and other teams and stuff.”
Community service has also been a priority in Hough’s second year. With the flood pounding the midwest in June, the Pirates football team helped fill sandbags in Rocheport for one day. This week, Hough said 55 players did community service around town on Wednesday.
“We did some things last year but to me the community service is crucial,” Hough said. “We as a team know how hard we work and the amount of time that we put in, and our kids do a fantastic job. We want to put them out in the public doing positive things so the community can see them and also it’s just a thank you. We fundraised this year for the first time and we had a great fundraiser and had a bunch of community support and were able to put all the money back into the kids. With that we were able to do something big and special for the kids.”
Not only did the fundraiser raise enough money, where they sold over 1,100 cards, Hough said the kids were able to get two shirts, a long sleeve shirt, a pair of shorts, hoody and sweat pants.  He said they earned the money so why shouldn’t they reap the rewards.
“The kids wear that stuff to school anyway, so we want our community and our hallways to be Boonville Pirate gear and not a piece of equipment that once they graduate they will never get to use. This they can keep. This fundraiser was the best ever in Boonville. I think traditionally in Boonville it’s been an all sport card and this year we did football only. As for the community service, it’s just a thank you to the people. It’s also a life lesson for the kids that not only do we do good stuff here between the white lines but we do good stuff on the outside and it’s a good way to build our relationships and build our foundation. It’s like I told the kids I am not coach Hough blowing a whistle, I am going to be Greg tomorrow with a rake.”
While it takes all the moving pieces to come together, Hough said everybody has done a nice job, especially the junior and senior class.
“They have done a really good job of taking some of the leadership things that we have talked about,” Hough said. “Again, second year being around me and knowing what my expectations are and just applying that to the game of football.”