After finishing the 2008 season with a 6-6 record, the Missouri Western football team is looking to compete better against the top-rated teams on the schedule this fall.
The Griffons have an extremely tough schedule in place for 2009, but according to head coach Jerry Partridge, tough competition will only make them better.
“Our league is tough,” Partridge said. “We have some power in our conference. Northwest Missouri State, Pittsburg State and UNO are some of the top programs in the country. And then you have programs like Central Missouri and Washburn, those programs are good just like us, and other programs are rising.”
Missouri Western plans to get better in all aspects of their game in order to survive these challenges this fall. One of the main areas that the Griffons want to improve on is their defense.
“We have a lot of older kids that have been in the system a lot longer so I think we’ll be much better on defense,” junior lineman Andy Gilmore said.
“I really anticipate some vast improvement in our defense this year,” Partridge said. “I also think we have the chance to have one of the best offenses we’ve had here.”
This season’s offense will be led by junior quarterback Drew Newhart. Several other key players will take on important roles this season.
“We have several players that are all-conference caliber guys,” Partridge said. “It starts with Nathan Martin at the line, then we have Thomas Hodges, Brad Davidson and Sean Whiters, to name a few. We have a lot of high expectations of our quarterback, Drew Newhart. We have some excellent senior wide receivers, and our secondary has also got a lot of experience.”
The Griffons agreed that a positive mindset will be one of the keys to a successful season.
“Sometimes we get down on ourselves when things start going badly, and I think the biggest thing is just reacting to adversity and sticking together,” Newhart said.
“I would say if we mess up a play, we just have to put it behind us and go on,” Gilmore said. “If we lose one week, which I hope we don’t, we’ve got to focus and get back the next week and win that game.”
After two weeks of preseason consisting of two-a-day practices and meetings, the Griffons are excited to get back on the field and start competing again.
“I’m just ready to get back on the field and play,” Newhart said. “We’re ready to work as a team and get back out there and start winning football games.”
With the Kansas City Chiefs training camp happening on campus next summer, Partridge agreed that there is a great deal of excitement surrounding the 2009 season.
“A lot of people are excited about our season,” Partridge said. “With the Chiefs coming here soon, it’s a great time to be involved in Missouri Western football.”
The Griffons will open Thurs. Aug. 27 against Northern State at home in Spratt Stadium.