Savannah Turns to New Crop of Leaders in 2014

By Matt Tritten |

Published 07/31 2014 07:59PM

Updated 07/31 2014 08:57PM

(SAVANNAH, Mo.) The Class of 2014 at Savannah got a taste of a deep playoff run when they were just freshmen.

The 2011 Savages lost in the Class 4 semifinals to eventual-state champion Webb City.

Savannah would love to reach that point once again, but the journey starts by getting through a tough Midland Empire Conference schedule, and even some of those teams twice.

They entered the playoffs in 2013 after a promising seven-win regular season, but a conference rival cut the Savages down in the first round of districts.

After beating Lafayette in week four last year, the Irish came back to knock the Savages off as the postseason began.

"That was very tough for all of us. We don't want that to happen again," Savannah senior Chase Simpson said.

And as the Savages prep for 2014, they're storing that loss to Lafayette away.

"We're going to learn from it," head coach Chad Smith said. "We're going to rebuild. We keep that in the back of our mind, and when that game comes we'll be ready."

But the upcoming season brings about plenty of change at Savannah.

The team reloads with 14 seniors, including a new quarterback.

After spending time at safety and wide receiver, Clayton McGinness moves under center.
"We've got a line of just great quarterbacks, and the guy that takes that spot knows that they have to be ready. And they have to be smart, they have to be good leaders," Smith said. "That's what we expect out of our quarterbacks."

"It's a big transition, big part, big role," Simpson, one of McGinness' wideouts, said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how he does."

Teams around the MEC have already seen McGinness' arm on display. He also served as the Savannah baseball team's ace last spring, but that doesn't have him pushing the Savage coaching staff to let him air it out this fall.

"I'm fine with whatever play calls we have. I understand that we're a run-first team, and if he gives me the opportunity to throw the ball, then I'm going to try and do my job and complete a couple passes," McGinness said.

McGinness and Simpson are just a couple of the Savages making up a new crop of leaders at Savannah, and they hope they're the team that returns the program to elite status in the conference.

"Anytime you can come out here on Friday nights and play, that's awesome," Simpson said. "But if you can come out every Friday night and win and take home the MEC, that's one of the best feelings in the world."

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