The Winfield Warriors made strides in a big way in the 2021 season to win the GAC North crown.
Winfield won three of four conference games last season in their first season in a co-op with Elsberry High School. They finished the season with a 5-5 record. They won one game in the previous two seasons.
Head coach Cody Spegal is entering his third year leading the program. Spegal believes the influx of players and the team’s familiarity with the schemes helped aid the turnaround.
“We were familiar with the offense,” Spegal said. “Familiar with the defense and then honestly we just got a whole lot more kids out, a whole lot more excitement around the program. Kids continued to buy in and then just we were able to execute and we just kind of got hot and we rode our momentum.”
Although there are challenges to having students from two separate high schools competing on the same high school team, Spegal noted there were many benefits to athletes from Elsberry High School joining the Warrior football program. Spegal said the athletes from the two schools meshed well together from the start. The Elsberry athletes helped fill gaps in Winfield’s roster, Spegal stressed.
“Luckily, we had already scheduled an overnight team bonding trip out to Redemption Ranch,” Spegal said. “Just being able to do that team bonding during fall camp really helped out and then kind of from there, just gained some trust and was able to take off really quickly. It’s honestly a real blessing that they were able to join us.”
The main challenges of the co-op is trying to get athletes from both schools together for summer workouts and practices, Spegal said.
Spegal believes the team is in a good spot for the upcoming season, with a good number of key varsity contributors returning. They will be led on offense by running back Draven Ham and guard Jorgen Kreuger. Both were first team all-conference selections. Ham led the Warriors in rushing last season and was second in all-purpose yards. Ham rushed for 553 yards and averaged over five yards per carry. He finished with 579 all-purpose yards. A senior guard, Kreuger will lead the Warrior offensive line. He also is a linebacker on defense for the Warriors.
Spegal added senior tight end and defensive end Kyle Turnbull is a player to watch this season. Turnbull was a second team all-district tight end. Turnbull had 34 total tackles and two sacks last season.
“It’s only his second year playing football but he’s a dominant two-way guy for us,” Spegal said.
The Warriors also return other key contributors, including Austin Bray, Bryce Irving and Cody Mense.
Sophomore quarterback Conner Martin is a newcomer to watch, Spegal said. He noted Martin is one of the top 2025 quarterbacks in the St. Louis area. Martin completed three passes in four attempts last season. He threw for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore tight end and defensive end Logan Kiel is also a newcomer for whom Spegal has high hopes.
Spegal believes the Warriors’ depth will be one of the team’s strengths. With the strong numbers on the team this season, Spegal expects very few players to play both offense and defense. They plan to use their depth to their advantage. Spegal also noted there are more athletes interested in joining the football team.
“Now that we finally got a taste of winning, more of our better athletes in school are wanting to come join and be a part of it,” Spegal said. “And so for us, it’s kind of helped turn around our program in a relatively quick process.”
The Warriors have their sights set on defending their conference crown. They went 3-1 in the conference last year to win the GAC North. They defeated St. Charles, St. Charles West and Warrenton.
“We have every expectation to go out and defend our conference title,” Spegal said. “And I know the boys are excited. We’ve had a really good summer. And overall, it’s just kind of our expectation.”
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