Friday Night Lights Returns: GMG tapping last season’s finale momentum

GMG football returning letterwinners including (front row l-r) Rider Kupka, Connor Rahn, Kaleb Gill, and Slate Witte; and (back row, l-r) Brody Becker, Jabari Woodbury, Austin Pencil, Joaquin Williams, Anthony Waters, and Matthew DeSchamp. PHOTO BY JAKE RYDER

GARWIN – GMG football hopes to bring some momentum from last fall to this year’s 8-man gridiron campaign.

The Wolverines defeated Springville 40-38 in last year’s season finale to end at 1-8.

GMG brings back a solid chunk of that team back in anticipation of the season opener at home against Collins-Maxwell on Aug. 25.

“They really dedicated themselves to the weight room in the summer,” said head coach Devon Diederichs, in his second season at the helm. “They’ve learned what it takes to win and I think they will continue to grow in that way.”

Senior receiver Jabari Woodbury caught 57 passes for 1,018 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior and added 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks on the defensive side.

Woodbury was a state medalwinner in the 400-meter dash in the spring, and the hope is to take advantage of speedsters like Woodbury to make plays offensively.

“We can use that to our advantage and get the ball to playmakers in space right away,” Diederichs said. “… We’ve got to take care of the ball, first and foremost, something we’ve emphasized through everything we’ve done. And we need to win the mental game this year. I think the mental toughness is a lot better than it was a year ago.”

Other key senior returners include Matthew DeSchamp, Austin Pencil, Anthony Waters, Slate Witte and Kaleb Gill. Rider Kupka and Brody Becker also saw varsity experience as freshmen last season.

This year’s senior class has stepped up for the Wolverines, Diederichs said.

“They’ve done a great job leading by example,” he added. “Showing up in the weight room all summer long and pulling the younger guys with them, giving them rides, making sure they’re ready to go for the season.”

GMG is in 8-Man District 4 for the upcoming two-year cycle, joined by state quarterfinalists Gladbrook-Reinbeck, and Tripoli and Clarksville teams that finished above .500 last fall.

“You can’t take any games off, no easy game,” Diederichs said. “It’s historically been a really good district, but we’re excited at the opportunity to compete.”