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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

East Prairie duo to play at next level

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

(Photo)
R.C. Strand
EAST PRAIRIE - Two East Prairie athletes have committed to play football and basketball in college next year.

R.C. Strand and Mitchell Winchester have signed to play at Central Methodist and Missouri Valley respectively next school year.

Strand, a 6-foot-2, 210 pound offensive and defensive lineman for East Prairie last football season, led the Eagles to a 5-4 record. That was East Prairie's first winning season since 1994.

Strand was a force on both sides of the ball for the Eagles and was the opposing teams main concern on defense.

Strand was a Class 2 All-Region selection on offense and defense. Strand also made the first team for the All-SEMO South. Strand was the only player to make it on both offense and defense.

(Photo)
Mitchell Winchester
"R.C. is just a coaching dream because he doesn't get in trouble and is a pretty good student," said East Prairie head coach Corey Adkisson. "He will do whatever is asked of him. I believe R.C. is in the gifted program here and is just a quality kid.

"R.C. did a tremendous job for us this year. He came into camp in great shape and throughout the year, he didn't leave the field for us. He was our anchor on both the offensive and defensive lines. R.C. is just a leader and I think he will excel at that level of football."

Central Methodist is an NAIA program that suited Strand due to its size.

"I think I am really going to enjoy going to a smaller school," said Strand. "The selling point for me was the fact that it is a close knit environment and the coaches stressed the academic part of school. I hope I can contribute on the team and earn my education."

Strand hopes to be a instant impact player at Central Methodist, but has to improve his speed and size according to Adkisson.

"If they stick him at defensive end, R.C. has to get a little faster for the competition," said Adkisson. "If they play him on the offensive line, he has to put on a little weight. I believe his best position as of right now would be at defensive tackle. He is most ready to be productive at that position due to his speed compared to normal offensive linemen."

Strand agrees that he has a lot of work ahead of him in the future.

"I think I can help out at Central Methodist with my speed and quickness on the line," said Strand. "I need to work on my strength. I am going to hit the weight room hard this summer and really work on adding extra muscle for next year."

Winchester was East Prairie's main shooting threat during the basketball season. Overall, Winchester averaged 14 points per game and shot 47 percent from the 3-point line for a 12-13 Eagle squad.

At Missouri Valley, Winchester will start out on the junior varsity team to gain some college experience.

"Mitchell is going to get a chance to learn the system and work on his game," said former East Prairie head coach Jason Irby. "He has a lot of work to do being that he is making the switch from a shooting guard to a point guard. Mitchell needs to specifically work on his ball-handling."

Winchester is fully aware of the changes that will occur at a higher level of ball.

"It is going to be a challenge for me," said Winchester, who will be joining former East Prairie teammate Jordan Sanders, "but I really believe I can help the team with my quickness and shooting ability. I will be playing a different position in college than I did in high school. The coaches have expressed an interest in me playing the point, so it should be interesting. I already know that I must improve my ball-handling immediately. I have faith in my abilities, so I know I will adjust and be productive."