2014 KHQA BARNSTORM TOUR: PARIS COYOTES
They were Northeast Missouri's most pleasant Football surprise last Fall...and a team that produced just ridiculous video game like passing numbers....
A Quarterback who threw for over 2600 yards...
An All State Receiver who caught more than 70 passes
An offense that scored a mind numbing 33 passing touchdowns.
And guess what....nearly every ounce of that outlier offensive octane.....is back
Slater Stone: "Yeah, I love playing on offense right now as a receiver because we pass the ball 60 times a game. Between me and Laine (Forrest) we get the ball almost every time. So I think it's fun."
August Hayhurst: "Like you said, it's real fun just to block someone for about a couple seconds and look up and that ball's in the air and you see Slater and Laine catching it."
Kyle Popkes: "Oh it really does. They are great receivers and I wouldn't be anything without them. And vice versa. We have been playing together since we were in the Sixth Grade so we kind of know each other very well. And I know I can throw to Slater no matter what and he will catch it."
It is a football team with a clear calling card as an explosive passing game jump started the Paris Rebuild and was good enough to net a once struggling program six victories last Fall. But the bigger takeaway from 2013 for the Coyotes was that merely good enough isn't good enough anymore.
Gary Crusha: "We averaged 29 points a game. We gave up 34 points per game. You can be a good team with that but you're not going to be a great team, not where we want to be with that kind of defense. We've got to hold teams to 21 points or under."
August Hayhurst: "We have got to get better in the trenches. Our line has got to play better. We've got to strengthen our running game and our defense has got to do a lot of improving to get on top of the conference."
Slater Stone: "I think our next step is to win the Conference, win District. All that kind of stuff. Take down Westran, Salisbury, Marceline. All the big schools. All the big names in our conference and all that. And I think we have a good chance of doing that this year.
To achieve those kinds of goals, the Coyotes need to become a more physical team on both sides of the ball. An identity change these players have been quick to embrace.
Gary Crusha: "We have a really solid line. Athletic, big, strong. And we just got to focus on it. We put a new running game in, a zone package, last year and was just getting used to it. And next year, we will even be better at it. And I think we have a couple of running backs coming back who got a little experience but I think they are going to step up."
Kyle Popkes: "I think our running game is going to turn around a full 360 this year. We have a really good running back in Tucker Gruber. I think he is going to get the yards we need. He's a ground and pound kid. Power running back. He's short but he's really, really strong and I think he will do really good this year."