Winfield, Mo. - Winfield’s football team had about as bad a season as it could get in 2020, going winless.
Elsberry’s football players went into the 2021 season wondering if they would even have a team to play for after Clopton dissolved its co-op on June 24, citing low participation.
However, a light was found at the end of the tunnel for both schools, as a new football co-op was formed between Winfield and Elsberry on July 21. Second-year coach Cody Spegal believes the new partnership could make his squad a formidable one in the upcoming campaign, and poised for a dramatic turnaround.
“Overall, I think we’ll be much-improved,” said Spegal, whose Warriors went 0-10 last season. “We finished our numbers at 32 last year, and we’re around the 60 mark last year, so we about doubled our size.”
The combination of experience from both teams, as well as the ability to develop younger talent, has the present – as well as the future – looking bright for Winfield-Elsberry.
“We essentially return 10 starters on offense, and 10 starters on defense,” Spegal said. “For the first time in school history, we have a true varsity and junior varsity.
“We have this program trending in the right direction.”
After missing virtually the entire season due to injuries, senior Wade Ellison returns at quarterback for the Warriors, and Spegal said he’s ready after a year off.
“(Ellison) is ready to step up and be a leader for this team,” Spegal said.
Ellison will certainly have speed on the outside to throw to. After spending most of the season at quarterback in Ellison’s absence, Austin Carson returns to his natural position at wide receiver. Cody Menze will be on the other side for the Warriors.
Carson was the fifth-fastest runner in the Class 3 State Tournament, and Menze is a member of the school’s record-breaking 4X100 relay team, along with Carson.
Cole Sams was forced onto the offensive line last season due to injuries, but will now move back his normal position of tight end, and junior Bryce Irving comes over from the Elsberry side with all-purpose skills at running back and wide receiver.
Also joining the team from Elsberry is Kyle Turnbull, a basketball standout who is in his first season of varsity football, but is 6-foot-6, and will be looking to contribute at wide receiver and tight end.
With all of the talent Spegal has in place, the chances Winfield-Elsberry goes winless are slim, however, expectations are much higher than that.
“We sure hope (we don’t go winless again),” Spegal said. “We’ve never won a conference championship in school history, but I think we’ve put ourselves in a position to win one, barring injury.”