GRANDVIEW — Less than three weeks into the 2019 season, the top-ranked Grandview Zebras have been forced to adjust on the fly after several unfortunate injuries.
Grandview’s week 3 showdown against Venus (0-2) will serve as a chance for the Zebras (2-0) to figure things out as players fill new roles, particularly on the offensive line.
Grandview entered 2019 with three returning starters — cornerstone players and leaders — on its offensive line. But now, the Zebras are only down to one returning starter on the offensive line, and he missed week 2.
“We’re trying to get people in place on offense and get things lined out with the injuries we’ve had,” Grandview coach Ryan Ebner said. “We’re focused on making sure we’ve got those things worked out as best we can.”
Going into the season, Grandview’s projected offensive line was: left tackle Cole Cannon, left guard Jakobee Crownover, center Brody Smith, right guard Jacob Bayer, and either Garrett Holmes or Colten Hoban at right tackle. Cannon, Crownover and Smith were part of the All-Johnson County co-MVP selection from last season, with Cannon an all-state selection.
Now, Grandview’s offensive line is: Jacob Bayer at left tackle, Holmes at left guard, Caleb Bayer at center, Hoban at right guard and Cade Fedor at right tackle. Returning starter Brody Smith missed week 2, but could return for a few snaps Friday against Venus.
“If there’s anything good about the situation we’re in, it’s when it happened,” Ebner said. “Nothing about it’s good, but we have time to work some stuff in this week and going into the game next week, to where we’ll be able to look at it and see what things we like and don’t like, and move forward from there.”
While the Zebras deal with what’s been a revolving door at some positions, at least Grandview does have the experience of 15 other returning starters off last year’s state championship team to hold things together while a few newcomers get up to speed.
“That experience is huge right now,” Ebner said. “But that’s three of 18 returners so you still have 15 out there. So regardless of who’s out where, you’re standing by someone who’s been there before. As far as that part goes, we feel really good about it. You know injuries are going to happen, you just have to move forward.”
Despite Venus’ 0-2 record, the Bulldogs have taken great strides this season compared to last year’s 0-2 start. Through two games last season, Venus was out-scored 125-0. Through two games this season against the same two opponents from last year, Venus has been out-scored 96-46, including a hard-fought loss against Nocona last week.
“Defensively, they’re being really aggressive and changing things up and are really trying to attack you,” Ebner said of Venus. “Offensively they’re keeping it basic but I think it’s good because their kids are better at executing plays, and you can tell they’re adding wrinkles as they go on. Their kids work hard making sure they’re executing the plays the proper way.”
Kickoff between the Bulldogs and Zebras is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday from Zebra Stadium.