High school football previews: Patriots look to turn small victories into real victories

Bill Althaus
Truman receiver Chris Rhodes just misses a pass while being defended by Fort Osage's Zeppelin Velder in last year's district game. Rhodes, who will serve as team captain, returns along with fellow senior Quincy Scott to give the Patriots a strong defensive secondary.

Since he arrived at Truman High School and took over a team that was struggling to find an identity and a sense of pride, coach Charlie Pugh has counted many “small victories.”

Now, the fourth-year head coach believes the Patriots will put a team on the field that can earn a different type of victory – one that can be celebrated on the scoreboard.

“All I have ever asked from my players is that we get one percent better every day in practice, and that is going to pay off,” Pugh said. “And this year, I think it is really going to pay some dividends.

“I’ve seen small victories – the kind that come from hard work and dedication. And we all think that hard work and dedication is going to pay off on the field this year.

“I really like what I have seen from the guys at practice and we’re all excited about Friday night. We usually participate in a jamboree, but that was canceled due to COVID-19, so we are going to have a showcase featuring our guys.

“We’re going to have some one-on-one drills, play some seven-on-seven and get the feel of a real game because we’re all hoping the season will start next Friday.”

The Patriots, who finished 1-9 last season, are scheduled to open their season on Aug. 28 at home against Grandview, but no one is sure now if that will be played.

Suburban Conference superintendents are scheduled to vote today by email if they support the start of football and other fall sports.

“The only things we can control are how hard we work and how much we want to put into practice, and Coach Pugh has us working hard!” senior linebacker Jayson Boatright said.

Senior defensive back Quincy Scott agreed.

“We are going to work hard for Coach Pugh and for each other,” Scott said. “This is it, our senior year, and we want to make the most of it – and I hope we get that opportunity.”

Ditto for Boatright, who added, “Quincy and I are seniors – this is it for us – and we both want to have solid seasons to help us play football at the next level. If it happens, great, if it doesn’t, well, we can’t control that.

“So we’re just going to keep on running hard, practicing hard and getting better every day.”

That’s an attitude that Pugh has created, despite the lack of success on the field.

“Our guys are working hard,” the coach said. “We have a mix of experience and youthful excitement. We’re smaller up front but we are a more athletic team compared to years past.

“We return one starter on the offensive line in Devron Rivera. He is a four-year starter who we are counting on to anchor an otherwise inexperienced line. Zane Anderson looks to be the quarterback after stepping in last year after starter Carter Brown was injured.

“Our team captain Chris Rhodes will lead us defensively. An all-district defensive back, Chris is one of the top defensive backs in the city.

“We have replaced an entire defensive line with inside middle linebacker Jayson Boatright and Quincy Potts returning to lead the front seven. We are excited about the newcomers to our team and are counting on a few to step up in places of need.”

Patriots at a glance

Head coach: Charlie Pugh (fourth season, 3-27 at Truman and overall)

Assistant coaches: Alex McClafferty, Collin Sizemore, Deallon Walton, Matt Dunnigan, Dalton Hutchings, Tyler DeCavele, Jaycee Pummil.

2019 record: 1-9 (1-5 Suburban Large Seven)

Returning letter-winners: 9

Returning offensive starters: Zane Anderson, 5-11, 170, jr., QB; Devron Rivera, 6-4, 300, sr., OL; Dimitri Smith, 5-10, 175, sr., RB; AJ Gietzen, 5-10, 175, sr., WR.

Returning defensive starters: Jayson Boatright, 6-2, 210, sr., LB; Quincy Potts, 6-2, 205, sr., DB; Chris Rhodes, 6-0, 170, sr., DB; Quincy Scott, 6-1, 170, sr., DB; Patrick Martin, 5-11, 165, sr., DB.

Others to watch: Max Black, 6-3, 225, sr., TE/OLB; Sam Scott, 6-0, 175, sr., WR/DB; Michael Larry, 5-8, 145, fresh., WR/DB; Noah Whisenhunt, 5-8, 160, jr., WR; Tyler Fetui, 6-2, 230, sr., OL; Markus Kinney, 5-8, 170, jr., RB.

Truman football head coach Charlie Pugh, center, instructs senior defensive back Quincy Scott (12) and other players during a recent practice. Pugh hopes his team's small victories in his first three seasons translate into wins on the scoreboard this season.