For The Beacon
Changing head coaches can be a challenge but doing so in the middle of a pandemic makes things much more difficult. Fortunately for Greenup County, the new head coach was someone within the program.
Zack Moore served as the Musketeers defensive coordinator last season but now finds himself as the new skipper on “The Farm” in Lloyd.
“I think with the situation we were presented, just the ability for familiarity with me and the rest of the staff was the biggest benefit,” Moore said of the change. “We had several Zoom meetings during the off season, which I know a high school guy can only get so much from those, but a good 30-minute meeting was beneficial. Had we been in a situation that the players didn’t know me or the staff, we would be in a much different situation than we are now.”
Greenup County is coming off a disappointing 4-7 finish while graduating the best quarterback and receiver in program history. Regardless of the losses, Moore said things remain business as usual as they prepare for this season.
“Not a lot has changed a ton, but things are going to look different simply because of personnel,” Moore said. “Outside of that, the same values we have been trying to instill in them the last few years, the intangibles are still the same. The scheme will take care of itself, especially since we haven’t lined up in a formation since November. Any installation has to be done in small chunks. “
With the departure of quarterback Eli Sammons after the Marshall signee wrote the record books before heading to Huntington, Greenup County must now replace the position for the first time in four years. Junior Sam Haislop and sophomore Carson Wireman are battling for the rights to become the next QB1 for the Musketeers and Moore appreciates the battle between the two.
“A competition is always a healthy thing.” Moore said. “It does a better job of ensuring that you are going to have the right pieces in place. And if you are really fortunate, whoever ends up being that second guy, you can move him somewhere else and he can still be a contributing part of your team, and that’s what we want. It’s not a good situation to have your starting quarterback and your QB2 a freshman because that freshman may not be able to do many of the other things the QB1 can do in other places. Whoever comes out on top for the position has a chance to be successful and we as coaches have to make certain that we don’t try to jam a square peg in a round hole.”
With many of the key skill players graduating for Greenup County, Moore said fans need to embrace the new look Musketeers, as do the players.
“It takes understanding and players have to understand why we are doing things a different way,” Moore said. “You have to be honest with them, too. We aren’t extremely deep at the wide receiver position, so going four-wide and a lot of empty (sets), those aren’t going to be stalwarts of our offense. They may be a wrinkle on occasion. We have skill players, they just look different in a way that they aren’t the receiver type bodies, but more of a running back body.”
With the loss of several of the offensive skill players and a majority of the offensive line, Moore said the transition to a different style of offense does not mean the Musketeers are going to become one dimensional.
“We have talked about shifting into more of a running type offense, but I don’t want to give the impression we are going to be in a three back, wishbone set,” Moore said. “We lost a lot of guys up front and this is going to be a new look personnel wise. We lost 4 of 5 offensive linemen from last season. Reid Parker is our lone returning full-time starter from last season. We have some other guys who got reps there midseason due to some injuries, but hats off to Coach Jones our offensive coordinator and Coach Kennedy our offensive line coach, of having our whole team understand everything has to be catered to our offensive line. Those five guys have to be 100 percent sure at all times of what they are doing. They have to be confident in what we are doing and their assignments, no matter what we do, it’s going to run through them.”
Parker looks to anchor the line for the Musketeers and wants to send a message to the opposition.
“We want to pound the rock,” Parker said. “We will throw it if we need to, but we would rather run the ball. Leave it to the big boys up front.”
Quinton Farrow hopes to return to the Musketeers’ backfield after suffering a season-ending ACL injury in the season opener last year at Raceland. Moore admits others have the chance to fill those key losses for the Musketeers, but only time will tell.
“Guys like Auston Clarkson, Brayden Craycraft and Quinton Farrow who are perfectly capable of being in those roles, but they haven’t been the dudes,” Moore said. “We’ve had playmakers in the past, and we have them now, they just haven’t shown themselves yet. It will be interesting to see what happens because the opportunity is there for multiple guys. We need more than just one and we'd have to have a handful of guys to be able to serve that role for us.”
One of the biggest issues for Greenup County last season was getting off the field on third down compounded with an offense that scored fast, ultimately putting the defense back on the field. But Moore said there is no special recipe for the defense to be successful.
“If you have problems in your front four to seven, you are going to struggle in high school football,” he said. “The last couple of years, we have been 100 percent bought in on being able to run the ball and stopping the run. If you want to be successful in high school, you have to be able to do both. We have more experience on the defensive line than we do the offensive line. Garrett Kinney moved to defensive end early last season and really played well. Mason Sammons got a lot of time there at the end of the year as a freshman. Reid will play a little of both and I expect us to be a little better on that side of the ball.”
Greenup County must battle its way out of one of the toughest districts in the state with Ashland and Russell as foes. The Musketeers will also continue the rivalry of US23 with a visit from Raceland and closes the year with West Carter.