The 2020 edition of the Greenup County Musketeers will be different in a lot of ways.
Greenup County welcomes in Zack Moore as coach to replace Scott Grizzle. The Musketeers will also have to fill a Division I quarterback departure in Eli Sammons and a receiver with 90 catches last year in Austin Evans.
Despite the new faces and numbers for the green and gold, Moore is optimistic on the team’s chances with the coaching staff returning intact, aside from Grizzle.
“There’s a lot of familiarity between all the players and coaches, and it’s important to have that trust,” Moore said.
Moore is entering his 23rd season as a coach. He has spent time as East Carter and Kentucky Christian University’s leader, among several other roles throughout his career.
His first few months have not come without challenges, as Greenup County has frantically had to replace three games on its schedule as Ohio opponents had to remove the Musketeers and a planned home-and-home with Ashland fell through.
On the field, Moore has been hard at work trying to improve on a 4-7 Greenup County record from a year ago. The Musketeers were decimated by injury in 2019, and are happy to have several of those players back on the depth chart.
Of course, the biggest change will be the next Greenup County signal-caller. Sammons had been largely a four-year starter, and his presence will be missed for the Musketeers.
Thus, Greenup County will tinker with some of its formations in 2020. Moore has credited assistant coaches Travis Jones and Jamie Kennedy for their efforts in re-tooling some areas of the offense.
Moore said Jones and Kennedy “have done a really good job of putting together a package that took the things we’ve done over the past four years with coach Grizzle and have done them extremely well, and have still been able to hold on to some of those things that we think we’re going to be able to continue to do.”
Greenup County has two quarterback candidates in Carson Wireman and Sam Haislop. Wireman attempted just five passes a year prior, and Haislop was sidelined with an injury he sustained in the first game.
Moore knows replacing a quarterback the caliber of Sammons is not an easy task.
“We’ll do what everyone else does, and that’s just replace him with the best possible candidate that we can find or can develop,” Moore said.
The running back position suffered a major blow in game one last year when Quintan Farrow was lost for the year. On top of that, Greenup County loses its top three rushers who combined for 87% of the team’s carries in 2019.
Farrow looks to split time with Brady Clevenger in the backfield. Moore said Farrow’s journey back from injury inspired him.
“For the situation he was presented with, I think he’s done a good job of rehabbing and trying to get himself back in a position to play and play well,” Moore said.
At receiver, Evans is a noteworthy loss, but the Musketeers are hoping Auston Clarkson and Brayden Craycraft can break through.
“We just need both of those guys to be able to step up into more of a playmaking role,” Moore said. “Those guys are going to have to be essential contributors.”
Clarkson had six receiving touchdowns and Craycraft tallied 189 receiving yards in six games a year ago.
Greenup County has options at tight end. Moore highlighted 6-foot-5 Garrett Kinney as a weapon and also tabbed Peyton Boggs and Hunter Clevenger as ones to watch.
On the offensive line, the Musketeers are eager to see what Reid Parker can do.
“Reid was a part-time starter his sophomore year and last year was a full-time starter on the offensive line,” Moore said.
Beyond Parker, Moore will look to a variety of players to fill in up front. Junior Connor Lykins, seniors Jacob Harr and Judd Hensley and sophomore Mason Sammons are among those expected to step up.
Moore also says “a whole bevy of sophomores” will be “fighting, scratching and clawing to get some playing time.”
Defensively, Greenup County will also be doing some adjusting as it looks to go to more of a four-down-lineman front look this year.
The Musketeers allowed an average of 31 points per game last season and surrendered 39.5 points on average against district foes.
Several offensive linemen will be looked to on the defensive side of the ball. Parker, Kinney and Mason Sammons are in the mix.
Moore also said “there are three to four guys that are going there and they’re going to compete for playing time, and that’s a good problem to have.”
Greenup County will be perhaps at its best at linebacker, Moore said.
“We’ve got a lot of expectations for those guys,” Moore said, “but they’ve shown the ability to live up to them.”
Brady Clevenger was a constant producer in his sophomore season, and Boggs also was vital. The third linebacker spot is still up for grabs, per Moore.
The defensive backfield has a multitude of players competing “for some significant time on Friday nights,” the coach said.
Clarkson and Craycraft played in the secondary and return. From there, Haislop and Cade Hunt will be looked to. The Musketeers also think Hunter Bonzo and Chase Crosier can make an impact as Greenup County searches for the next slew of stars.
“I wouldn’t say our team is young or anything like that. We’re inexperienced,” Moore said, “meaning that our next generation of playmakers haven’t surfaced yet, so we’re still looking for those guys.”
Special teams is still a question mark as the Musketeers will look to iron out their starters in that phase of the game, though Kinney does return at long snapper.