Log in

Buvid and Depee among a lot to like at linebacker for Tigers


Over the years Gage Depee has accepted that as the son of Ozark coach Chad. Depee, there are times he will be assigned a job he didn't necessarily ask for.

For instance, Gage has been asked to serve as a host for incoming transfers while they transition to joining the Tigers.

"I get chosen for that job when new kids  come in," he said.

So it was two year ago that Gage rolled out the welcome wagon to Cooper Buvid, a transfer from Mississippi.

"He was showing me around, telling me what's right and wrong and how to play around here," Buvid said.

"When he came in, we were like, 'Who is this kid?'" Depee said. "I had to introduce him. I brought him in for our summer weights and we ended up working out together."

They've practically been inseparable ever since.

Depee and Buvid have often found themselves working together, with both of them being linebackers on the gridiron and Depee being a pitcher and Buvid a catcher on the ball diamond.

"We are pretty much together all year, football and baseball and weights," Depee said.

"We're always with each other," Buvid added. "We have a good relationship. That's one of my best pitchers. I always like catching him."

As first-year starting linebackers, Depee and Buvid both enjoyed breakout seasons a year ago. Depee collected 53.5 tackles, two quarterback sacks and one tackle for a loss and Buvid posted 44 tackles, a team-high eight TFLs, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

"The first couple games last year, it seemed a lot faster," Depee said of his
intro to varsity ball. "As the season goes on, you get used to it. It was good for me. I feel a lot more confident this year. A lot of us have more confidence under our belts."

Depee and Buvid are part of an Ozark defense in which five of the Tigers' top six tackles from last season are back.

"I think we're going to be really good," Depee said. "The whole defense, we know what is going on."

Expectations are high in particular for Ozark's linebackers. In addition to Depee and Buvid, that group is led by Brock Dodd, Jace Whatley and newcomer Parker Elliott.

"We're all physical, fast and willing to do whatever it takes," Buvid said.

"We're strong and have speed," Depee said. "Brock and Jace are our outsides and me and Buvid have a hard-nosed style and like up-the-middle plays with a lot of hard contact. We love that."

Depee, a junior, and Buvid, a senior, are sure to make their voices be heard inside the Ozark defensive huddle and as the opposing offense is lining up.

"We have a good nose for the ball and know where the play is going to go," Depee said. "I think that's why me and Buvid play (linebacker)."

"We look at what we have lined up against us and we figure out if it's going here or there," Buvid added.

Buvid and Depee also are constantly chattering with each other. They've become so accustomed to each other over the past two years that now they often finish each other's sentences.

"We have our inside jokes," he said. "The entire game, me and him are talking to each other about what we think is going to happen each play."

Buvid draws from his experience talking to Depee during his visits to the pitcher's mound in regard to how to get the best out of him.

"Knowing him from baseball and talking to the pitchers, it just depends on the day," Buvid said. "Some days I can crack a joke at him or make fun of him or some days I have to be (angry) with him. That's who he is."