The scolding of players was expected in practice each day this week after Waynesville was trounced 36-0 a week ago.
Coach Rick Vernon yelled, "Get on the ball!" multiple times in Wednesday's practice, emphasizing repetition while audibly exuding his frustration at the way this season has gone. Still, Vernon is pleased at the team's diligence throughout the season.
"Our kids work very hard," Vernon said. "They keep learning and keep getting better week-by-week, and eventually it's all going to come together for a big win."
Indeed his team has struggled in four of its six games, but in the two victories Vernon noticed a trend: his team didn't turn the ball over and won the field position battle. If Waynesville can limit its turnovers and control field position, Vernon said it will have a "chance to win football games."
Winning will be no easy task with the absence of senior starting quarterback Dylan Newcomb. Newcomb's three years of varsity experience and intangible leadership qualities are some things Vernon said are tough to replace.
In Newcomb's place, the coach will look to senior quarterback Alec Tebbe to fill the void left by the intelligent student-athlete.
"[Tebbe]'s been with us all year long so he knows the offense," Vernon said.
The coach expects everyone to stand nose-to-nose with any challenge and said that for any position, when someone is out with an injury, it is up to the substitutes to fill those roles and perform their job. But not only was Newcomb a major part of the offense, but the preseason all-stater also was an asset to both the defense and special teams.
Vernon said his outstanding senior linebacker Warrem Womack will see playing time at safety, and other players will fill in for Newcomb in different formations on defense. Sophomore defensive back Varon Martinez is another player who may substitute for Newcomb.
Aside from injury, in each of its last three games, Waynesville has struggled to stop the run game. Although he said his team has improved in that area of the game, Vernon's squad still practiced maintaining the line of scrimmage much of Wednesday's practice.
"I thought we did very well [defensively] with Camdenton and Joplin," Vernon said. "Defensively we're doing a lot of right things. If we can take care of the ball, our offense will [also] be ok."
Friday night's home game could potentially be the last of the season for Waynesville. Despite a 2-4 overall record, Vernon is enthusiastic his team may earn a home playoffs game.
"We can still have another [home game] on week 10; we're not going to know that until Saturday morning," Vernon said. "Hopefully if we do some things right the next couple weeks we'll be back home."
Page 2 of 2 - "A lot of good football has been played" on Waynesville's home turf since 1959, Vernon said. Fans should expect another quality game Friday against Glendale at 7 p.m.
Glendale (2-5) comes off a 28-26 win against Rolla, a team Waynesville defeated in overtime three weeks ago.