On paper, the claims Nixa’s offensive players have repeatedly stated in the pre-season that Caleb Pierce may blossom into one of the COC’s most dangerous players might seem a bit far-fetched.
“Caleb is going to be a mismatch for about everyone we play,” quarterback Reid Potts proudly predicts.
Pierce might need an intro to even some Nixa fans. After all, he posted pedestrian totals of four receptions for 83 yards as a junior last season.
But it also would have been hard for anyone to believe a year ago at this time that Pierce would not only play against mighty Webb City in Week Nine, but burn the Cardinals for three catches, including a 45-yard bomb.
After all, he was entrenched on the Eagles’ jayvee roster last summer and almost all of the fall and for a while wasn’t even playing on offense.
“I got pulled away from the wide receiver spot,” Pierce said. “But through our jayvee games, I got better and better and got chosen to play at wide receiver on the varsity, which led to the Webb City game.”
The Webb City game, a 55-14 Nixa loss, was hardly memorable from an Eagles standpoint, with the exception of Sean Sample rushing for 155 yards and Pierce giving the first glimpse of his Friday night potential.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder looked every bit the part of a future star, displaying speed and athleticism to go along with his size.
If Pierce can fill a starring role, it will continue quite a story full of surprises. Nixa’s potential premier playmaker was born and raised in remote Edna, Kansas, population 413.
“Home of the Wildcats,” Pierce said with pride. “I went there pre-K through my eighth grade year. There were 17 kids in my eighth-grade class.”
He was always one of the bigger boys in his class and naturally was one of Edna’s best athletes.
“I grew up kind of being ‘the guy,’” he said. “I played football in the sixth and seventh grades. We had five schools join to form a football team and we were still a super small team. I think we had only 20 kids on the team. We were almost all playing both ways. I never played receiver there. I was a running back.”
Pierce’s move to Nixa was precipitated by his family’s desire to be closer to his step-father’s relatives who lived here.
“I moved here the summer before my freshman year,” Pierce said. “The day after my eighth grade year was over, we moved here. Now, I had 400 kids in my class. I won’t even lie to you, I was so nervous. My parents were nervous for me.”
Pierce initially didn’t plan on continuing his football career from Edna to Nixa. But he had every intention of resuming his basketball career and played hoops for the Eagles as a freshman.
That’s when more surprises were in order.
“I was huge into basketball growing up,” he said. “Once I moved here, though, I lost my love for basketball. I went out for basketball and track my freshman year and track only my sophomore year— no regrets.
“I wanted to stay active. So, I joined the football team my junior year. But I would have never thought I would love football in high school. I hadn’t even played football in three years.”
Pierce’s God-given talents helped him make up for his inexperience.
“There was a lot to learn, a lot to take in at once,” he said. “It was rough at first. But I started on our jayvee.”
On the jayvee, Pierce and Potts began forming a potent combination that would eventually lead to their promotions to the varsity and shots at playing time.
“The Webb City game was my breakout game, it was Reid’s breakout game, as well,” Pierce said.
Of course, any optimistic overtures regarding Pierce’s play this season have much to do with lofty expectations for Potts, as well. Potts made quite the impression last year by throwing for three first-half touchdown passes in Nixa’s District semifinal loss to Parkview.
The Eagles could be in line to throw the ball more than the 12.6 passes per game they averaged a year ago.
“With Reid throwing it, I think coach (Rich) Rehagen is going to give coach (Aaron) Wells the go-ahead to let the ball fly a little more,” Pierce said. “The offense has stepped up and I’m loving it. The receiver group, I feel, is one of the best and well-rounded groups on the team and we have depth.
“Reid is going to be one of the most talented throwers in the COC and I want to show everyone what I’ve got.”