Varsity Football Makes a Comeback

The+Ozark+Tiger+football+team+storms+the+field+prior+to+the+Backyard+Brawl+on+October+2%2C+2020.+

Jessie Marshall

The Ozark Tiger football team storms the field prior to the Backyard Brawl on October 2, 2020.

Amy Surface, Writer

Friday night lights have dimmed for the year, bringing an end to the 2020 Ozark varsity football season. The seniors persevered and ended their high school career the same way it started for them as freshmen – with a winning record. The team’s 14 returning starters led the way into a new season and fresh start. 

Coming off a loss in the first game of the season, the Tigers went on to complete a four-game winning streak. In week three, they traveled to Joplin to face off against the 2019 COC champions and stunned the Eagles with a 51-43 win. 

“It [Joplin] was a huge game to win and I felt like our team executed very well and beat a really tough team. We did something Ozark hasn’t done in a long time by beating them. It was challenging, yet so thrilling when we won,” said Senior Cannon Cox, starting quarterback. 

Ozark’s other regular-season victories were Branson, Willard, Republic, and Neosho. The team also met some harsh competition bringing in the four losses of their 5-4 record. 

Their overall success as a team showed through the individuals, with nine players earning places on the All-COC team(s). This included eight seniors: quarterback Cannon Cox, linebackers Thomas Rushing and Logan Baldwin, linemen Hunter Tennison and Jacob Wofford, running backs Tylr Bolin and Ethan Pritchard, and defensive back Colton Casteel. Junior Jace Easley, defensive back also earned a spot on the second team. 

“This season we focused on getting better at the little things and continuing to develop the team’s toughness, mentally and physically,” said Head Coach Chad Depee. 

They finished third in the district, giving them home-field advantage against the Neosho Wildcats for the first postseason game. Taking the lead early on, the Tigers defeated the Wildcats with a final score of 40-7. Unfortunately, they lost to the Webb City Cardinals in the second round of districts.

Though the postseason may not have lived up to the team’s hopes, the Tigers still walked away with their first winning record in three years, proving how hard everyone worked this season to stand out and overcome challenges. 

“I feel that our season ended up being an improvement from past years. I was really proud of our guys and what we were able to accomplish as a team, especially with COVID-19 breathing down our backs,” said Cox.