Leading the Turnaround
After a disappointing 2015 campaign that saw Oak Grove finish the season with a 1-7 record, the Grovers return a significant stable of talented skill-position players to center stage of one of the state’s most picturesque football backdrops.
As a first-year head coach, Melvin Whitney will rely heavily on Bryce Bakkegard to restore winning ways to the Grover program. The offense especially looks forward to making a bigger difference on the scoreboard. Oak Grove’s only victory in 2015, against Lakota, featured two defensive touchdowns.
So far, Whitney likes what he sees from the senior signal-caller.
“Bryce is a very smart player and a great leader to his teammates, on and off the field,” says Whitney. “He’s been a leader in the offseason and has picked up the offense pretty well.”
Bakkegard puts in the hard work in hopes of helping the Grovers finish off opponents more effectively this season.
“We couldn’t quite put together a full game. We’re working on being the most fundamentally sound team on the field,” he says.
Bakkegard’s cupboard of surrounding talent is not bare. Offensive weapons Jimmy Slagle and Ben Hoggarth give him the kind of playmaking ammunition they need to put more pressure on opposing defenses.
“Those guys are huge for our offense. Jimmy has a lot of speed. We utilize him on the edge,” says Bakkegard. “Ben’s a power back, yet he’s fast. Those guys really carry our offense.”
A hard-working, team-first captain, Bakkegard fits the description of a leader at the quarterback position. The Grovers will entrust their offense to his hands in 2016, with hopes he rallies his teammates to inspire a much-improved 2016 season.
There is some good football played at our level, and teams with some great coaching. We’re hoping to come out and have a good season and try to establish a winning tradition at such a great school. There is a lot of work to do, but the players seem to be dialed in at achieving some goals we’ve set, from back in early January, when I first took over the position.