Brady Schupp is adding to Ozark’s collection of sophomores who are seeing quality minutes and helping the Tigers continue their winning ways.
Schupp made his third straight start at midfielder in Ozark’s 4-1 triumph versus Springfield Catholic on Thursday.
Schupp is subbing for senior Jason Martin since Martin suffered a concussion at Carthage last week.
“My minutes have gone way up,” Schupp said. “Jason is supposed to be back for Districts. I get to play it out until then.”
Ozark (18-2-2) has totaled 23 goals over its last three matches.
“I feel like I’m distributing the ball well,” Schupp said. “The upperclassmen keep building me up and making me better. This is getting me ready for everything to come.”
Coach Zack Owens has been impressed with Schupp’s job at both ends of the field.
The Tigers have outscored their last three opponents 23-2. Two of those teams, Catholic (14-8) and Joplin (10-8) have winning records.
“He’s doing a great job controlling the ball and he sees the field well. He has good vision for what his next plan of attack is and where he needs to send the ball,” Owens said. “One of his number one jobs is to stop (the opponent’s) attack up the middle and he’s been doing a phenomenal job of that.
“It’s been awesome to see Brady step up as a sophomore,” he added. “He’s played consistent. He doesn’t get too worked up out there and minimizes his mistakes, which is very important at that position.”
With two full months between Ozark’s season-opener and its final regular-season match, the Tigers feel it’s important to see their depth play out.
“Brady has done a great job stepping up,” midfielder/forward Caleb Lepant said. "Coach does a good job in games the starters don’t really need to be playing by keeping us fresh. And, we’ve got a ton of players. Everyone wants to get on the field.”
Ozark received a pair of goals from Caleb Lepant and one each from James Nemeti and Alex Williams.
The match features physical and repeated yellow cards. Following one Ozark tackle, tempers flared and shoves and a bit of profanity were exchanged.
“I didn’t expect the cards to be coming the way they did,” Lepant said. “I think the refs did what they needed to do to get the game to slow down.”
“We were physical,” Owens said. “You have to knock (Catholic) off the ball a little bit and get a little physical with them. The card count showed that tonight.”
The Tigers were in control on the scoreboard, but the Irish controlled the ball a great portion of the night.
“We knew they would possess well, they always do,” Owens said. “We had a tactical game plan for that and I think we executed it well. It took us a little bit to get settled in because it’s not a formation we run all the time. We had to adjust to them and it worked in our favor.”
“We weren’t 100 percent,” Lepant said of Ozark's play in general. “There were late tackles by us. I don’t hate it. I’d rather have us go in for those tackles than not go in and lose the ball.”
Ozark will look to close out an undefeated run within the COC and repeat as outright league champions by winning at Neosho (7-9) next week. The Tigers have won 17 straight COC matches and overall own 19 straight victories against COC opponents.
“Neosho is an interesting environment. Anything can happen,” Owens said. “We like our chances of going back to back. I want the outright title. I don’t want to share it.”