It’s a typical comeback story, a tale of going from the bottom to the top. But for the Savannah High School football team, it’s all about the mission to stay on top.
“Our kids are going to show up. They’re going to be disciplined. They’re going to be great sports, and they love the game of football. And our coaches are going to coach them hard and it should be a great season out here,” said Randy Schrader, Savannah head coach.
In his three seasons as head coach for the Savages, Schrader has had the task of reviving an Achilles heel: being a losing team.
“My freshman year we were 1-9 or something, and then we slowly improved. We went from 1-9 to 3-7, I think. I think last year was the first time we won after the regular season in three, four years, which is a big deal,” said Chase Spoonemore, a Savannah senior quarterback. “That’s where we hope to get back to is the playoffs, and we hope to win a district championship.”
After three consecutive seasons ending below the .500 mark, Savannah finished with a 8-4 record in the MEC last season.
Savannah senior safety and running back Noah Bodenhausen said practicing toward improvement can be tiring, but the team feels bonded for a winning season again.
“Just heart and that we play together as a family. If we do that, we’ll be pretty good,” Bodenhausen said.
“That is that intrinsic motivation that we’ve tried to build with our kids, and I think they’ve really bought into that. It’s taken three years to do it. Last year we’ve made a huge step, and we have to build on what we had last year,” Schrader added.
Spoonemore said the team lost plenty of graduating seniors, yet returned a lot of starting juniors. Now, Savannah is going into the season with 13 seniors on the squad.
“Our back-end kids are really good,” Schrader said. “They’re all returners. Most of them are three-year starters. It plays big for us. Up front we’re lacking that depth that we need, that experience up front, but our back-end kids are pretty good.”
Even though the team holds high expectations, its weak spot lies in its depth.
“We’re slim in the up-front guys. We try to platoon up front. So, we’ve lost two kids to injury for the season: one was an offensive lineman, one was an outside linebacker, both non-contact injuries. When you don’t have great numbers anyway, it’s kind of tough to replace those kids. So, we have to build depth,” Schrader said.
In the end, all the team wants is for everyone to put in their best effort.
“I hope to do my 1/11th. And I hope they do theirs,” said Bodenhausen on the team’s performance this season.
Spoonemore added, “Just do what they can do and not try to press too hard to be someone they aren’t.”
“It is what it is. It’s high school football. Kids got to put a lot of time in and you’re in a great conference. If we show up to play, we’re going to be OK, and if we don’t, it’s going to be a long season,” Schrader said.
The Savages kick off the season in a non conference away game versus Grain Valley on Friday, Aug. 30.