Last year fullback Mason Wortman ran for just 75 yards on 20 carries as a blocker for the tailback in the I-Formation for North Callaway.
This year is going to be his time to shine, though, as the senior finally gets to put his power to use on more than a casual basis. As a two-year All-Conference and All-District defensive end he's not afraid to play physical football, making him the perfect candidate for new head coach Don Boulware's attack.
"Offensive Guard/Center Zeke Gilman, a 6-foot-1, 215 lb. sophomore, started as freshman on the offensive line and will be counted on both ways this year," Boulware said. "A very good, young athlete and football player with lots of potential."
On the other side of this equation on defense sophomore linebacker Trevor Ray stands in at 6' 0", 195 lbs., and is the second fastest guy on the squad. Once he's teamed with individuals such as returning letterman like defensive backs Wyatt Raithel, Blake Whipple, Matt Blair and Gage Freels, this team is hoping it can shut down the pass.
"The T-Bird's are undergoing many changes in 2019....not only breaking in a new Head Coach and two other staff members...but virtually and whole new cast of running backs and receivers on offense," Boulware said. "Overall the T-Bird's must replace 90% of their rushing yards, 77% of their receiving yards and 87% of their points scored."
Hoping to help fill those voids is a group of newcomers that includes 6-foot-6, 305 lb. junior Brandon Hill, who this team will be looking to develop along either the offensive or defensive line. Another individual who'll play both lines is Scylor Shirley, a 5-foot-9, 235 lb. senior who is both strong and quick.
"Evan Macke is a 6-foot, 180 lb. senior (who) played only his sophomore year, but has good speed and athleticism and could be a big help at TE or LB," said Boulware. "Josh Rlecke in a 5-foot-9, 185 lb. senior who was recruited out of weightlifting class. Very explosive and has the top hang clean on the squad. He has worked hard this summer and could be a big help on both the offensive and defensive lines."
Joining Boulware, a 25-year veteran with 17 years of head coaching experience who last coached in Iowa in the year 2000, has been Jake Vitale, who is also the Thunderbird's new wrestling coach and will oversee runnings backs and defensive backs. As for the most experienced assistant on this staff, that would be Ronnie Kimbley, who'll work with the receivers and defensive backs, while second-year coach Jantzen Bradford is handling the offensive line, linebackers and coaching the JV squad.
"Lance Wortman is a 6-foot-1, 165 junior. Injuries derailed his sophomore year," Boulware said. "But he could start both ways at split end and cornerback this fall. Has good hands, size, speed, athleticism and is posed to have a good year."
One things that's different for North Callaway is that it won't begin by playing the Missouri Military Academy to start the season. Instead this team has to take the trip to play the Class 1 runners up at Lincoln to open 2019, a program that went 13-2 in 2018.
"We have some 'dudes' as the coaches now-a-days like to say. Now do we have enough dudes? That remains to be seen," said Boulware. "I think this team has the potential to be pretty good...but it all depends on how quickly we come together and gel as a team. And like most Class 2 teams...we need to stay healthy. We're not real deep. But I'm excited about this group and we're really looking forward to this season. Our players are working hard and have a great attitude thus far."