The district championship is within reach for both the Camdenton Lakers and the Eldon Mustangs, but can they make it to the final round of the district tournament?
The Lakers return to action after a first-round bye, which can be both a good and a bad thing. On one hand, it gives the team a chance to rest and more time to prepare. On the other, it can cut off momentum, which any coach will tell you can win or lose games.
Luckily, the Lakers have been dominant all season, with their only loss coming at the hands of Kickapoo, the Ozark Conference champs.
It seems as everything has been clicking this season for Coach Jeff Shore and his Lakers, and though they have had their fair share of issues, they have dealt with them and continue finding ways to win.
The Purple Haze defense has yet to give up more than 21 points in a game, and has been forcing turnovers all season long.
On offense, QB Bo Dean has been a shining example of an efficient quarterback, making big plays with smart throws. With Kullen Carlock at his disposal and a stable of running backs led by Luke Burris and Matt Endsley.
The Laker offensive line has done a solid job this season, both in run and pass blocking situations, allowing for the Lakers to open up the field on both the ground and the air.
Coach Shore always stresses the importance of playing their best at the end of the season, so this will be a test of the Lakers, to see if that holds true.
Scouting Report: Smith-Cotton
Coach: Mark Johnson
2012 Record: 2-9 Overall, 2-3 District
2013 Record: 4-6
Last Game: The Smith-Cotton Tigers football team won Friday's home playoff game against Washington by a score of 36-7.
Players to Watch:
Chance McMullin, Sr.: McMullin has played extremely well this season, and led the team on the ground with 1040 rushing yards for 14 touchdowns.
Dakota Brown follows in the rushing yardage, with 714 yards and 7 touchdowns, with Jacob Weeks rounding out the attack with 446 yards and five touchdowns.
Wade Hagebusch, Sr. : Hagebusch leads the team in sacks, with three on the season (the team has six total). He also has recorded 12 solo tackles. The defense has recorded six interceptions this year, all from different players.
Camdenton's Keys to Winning
1. Controlling the ball. The Lakers have done a solid job on defense in limiting the time of possession for their opponents, and if they continue playing the way they are, then this shouldn't be a problem.
2. The Dean-Carlock Connection: QB Bo Dean has done a solid job this season of finding his receivers, and with the talented hands and acrobatic plays from Kullen Carlock, this duo put up big numbers every week.
3. No Holding Back: From here on out, every game is a do-or-die for the Lakers. Winning is the only way to continue the season, so whatever Coach Shore and his staff have hidden up their sleeves will start coming out in this game.
The Eldon Mustangs are a prime example of what hard work and power running can do for a team. Coach Shannon Jolley is not one to switch things up late in the game. If you're good at something, then do it. Eldon will play to their strengths in this week's Wednesday night matchup against Salem: power running and tough defense.
Offensively, Eldon puts up the kind of numbers on the ground that other teams do through the air. Their three-pronged attack in the rushing game has been stellar all season, but with the season-ending injury to All State wide receiver-turned-running back Dalton Lister, that trio is down to two. Running back Raymond Kwok should be ready to go after resting last week during the win over Versailles, and QB Wyatt Greenwalt made the most of their absences, scoring five rushing touchdowns.
Levi Shinn and Dylan Wood both have stepped up in the last two games to help in the rushing attack, so the fact remains: as long as the Mustangs have legs in their stable, these workhorses will be running. Add to that the current weather over the last week, and a potential wet and muddy game, and the passing game could be hindered on both sides.
That, however, will suit Salem just fine, as they also have a talented run game. Last week, Salem's Zayne Kyser showed the Osage Indians just what power running is, as he pounded out 338 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. In the week before that, he led the Tigers to a 35-20 win over Cabool, in which he rushed for over 200 yards.
QB Dylan Wisdom can also move the ball on the ground, and is serviceable through the air.
This game will be decided by which team puts up a more dominant front on defense. Controlling the line of scrimmage is going to be the name of the game in this one.
Scouting Report: Salem
Coach: Brian McNamee
2012 Record: 6-4 Overall, 4-3 District
2013 Record: 5-5
Last Game : The Salem Tigers football team won Thursday's home playoff game against Osage by a score of 43-40.
Players to Watch:
Jr. RB Zayne Kyser: Salem's back rushed for over 200 yards in the win over Cabool last week, and stopping the run has been an issue for the Indians.
QB Dylan Wisdom: Wisdom rushed for 100 yards in the win over Cabool, and a mobile quarterback is a double threat for the Tigers.
Eldon's Keys to Winning:
1. Contain the offense. Kyser will be the key to a Salem victory, so stacking the box and holding against the run is the way Eldon can beat Salem.
2. Eliminate penalties. Nothing kills a drive quicker than a quick whistle and a loss of yards or a down. Don’t be on the receiving end of it.
3. Get the ball to the playmakers. Salem knows that Eldon will run the ball, but the question for Salem here will be simple: WHO will be running the ball? Eldon has plenty of players to move the ball with, so the focus needs to be confusing the Salem defense, and forcing them to cover the field and spread out against all options.