Versailles facing big test against Blair Oaks 

After one half of play it was anyone’s game when Versailles welcomed Fulton to the gridiron Friday night.

The Tigers trailed just 20-15 at the break, but the Hornets soon found a groove in the second half offensively and went on to secure a 47-23 victory in week two.

Versailles struck first with a touchdown on its opening drive, but Fulton needed just five plays to tie it and quickly took a 14-7 advantage soon after. However, the Tigers came storming back and regained the lead at 15-14 with just over a minute remaining in the half. Unfortunately for Versailles, the Hornet offense did not skip a beat and regained the lead for good before halftime and remained consistent throughout the second half.

Versailles sophomore quarterback Coby Williams kept his team fighting with both his legs and his arm. Despite one errant interception, the sophomore gunslinger finished the night with a team-leading 57 rushing yards and two touchdowns while completing 12 of his 17 passes for 135 yards. On the ground, junior tailback Grant Hutchison added the other Tiger touchdown and finished with 26 rushing yards on six carries while senior wideout Kooper Wilson proved to be a reliable target for the second straight week as he hauled in a team-leading four receptions for 84 yards.

Just like the previous contest in the season opener with Knob Noster, the opponent’s rushing attack was a constant thorn in the side of the Versailles defense. This time, though, Versailles was unable to overcome it as Fulton rushed for 303 yards averaging 9.2 yards per carry. The Hornets also put up 107 yards through the air. As tough as the night was for the Versailles defense, there were some bright spots as the Tigers managed to record six tackles for a loss and junior defensive back Wyatt Espinosa recorded his first interception of the season.

Versailles (1-1) will look to get back on the right track with Blair Oaks (2-0) coming into town Friday night at 7 p.m. The reigning Tri-County Conference champion Falcons came into the season ranked No. 4 in the Class 3 preseason statewide media rankings and have gotten off to another good start in 2017. Coach Brad Drehle’s team is currently averaging 40 points per game while allowing 13 points per contest. Versailles comes into the matchup with an offense averaging 37 points per game and a defense allowing 38.5 points of its own.

It may be tough for a lot of teams to keep Blair Oaks off the scoreboard this season, but Versailles certainly has some firepower of its own. The Williams-Wilson connection has been strong in the passing game while Hutchison and senior running back Taylor Dobbins can be dangerous if they get loose and out in open space.

However this one winds up, it will be a good test for the Tigers to defend home turf and see how they stack up against one of the better teams in Missouri.

Camdenton looking to bounce back in Highway 5 battle at Lebanon

Victory was just out of reach for Camdenton Friday night.

The Lakers welcomed Ozark Conference foe West Plains to Bob Shore Stadium where the Zizzers escaped with a 25-24 win. Besides a 55-41 Laker win in week two of last season, West Plains has been a thorn in Camdenton’s side as the Zizzers have won three of the past four contests by a single point including 29-28 win in district playoff action last year.

Camdenton, which had built up a comfortable 24-6 lead over the course of the night quickly saw that lead evaporate as West Plains managed to find the end zone three times in the final quarter of play. Trailing by a single point with just under two minutes remaining, Camdenton managed to quickly march to the Zizzer 35-yard line before the Lakers were stopped on fourth down and the opponents proceeded to run the clock out.

Camdenton senior fullback Todd Simpson led all Laker ball carriers with 77 yards and two touchdowns while fellow senior fullback Seth Harris put up 57 yards and a score of his own. Senior quarterback Isaiah Lumley finished the night completing 11 of his 17 passes for 89 yards and two interceptions and senior wideout Jacob Hill paced the receiving corps with six receptions for 59 yards respectively.

The Lakers (1-1) will look to get back on track when they visit rival Lebanon (2-0) Friday night in the battle for the Highway 5 trophy at 7 p.m. Coach Will Christian’s Yellowjackets come into the contest with narrow victories over Rolla and Waynesville averaging 34.5 points per game while allowing 28 points per game respectively. Meanwhile, Camdenton is averaging 29.5 points per game while giving up 19 points per contest by comparison.

Camdenton, having the luxury of multiple assets in its offensive arsenal, has shown it can move the ball just fine and there is little reason to believe the Lakers cannot do so again. Lebanon, on the other hand, has one main weapon in do-it-all senior running back John Berry. Berry has accumulated 603 of the Yellowjackets’ 953 total yards of offense with 530 rushing yards (8.5 yards per carry) and five touchdowns and another team-leading 73 receiving yards with a touchdown. To put it simply, if Camdenton can slow down Berry the odds of a favorable outcome significantly increase and the Lakers can bring the trophy back to Camdenton for the first time since 2014.

Time will tell if the “Purple Haze” defense is up to the task.

Osage hoping to rebound in battle with Hallsville

Four interceptions, two fumbles and a turnover on downs — combined with countless penalties — doomed most chances for the School of the Osage Indians Friday night against the visiting Indians of Seneca.

Both teams came into the matchup at 1-1 on the season and off drastically different seasons in 2016, which Osage finished 9-3 and Seneca finished 3-6, a home loss to Osage by a score of 36-19 included.

Though this time around it was the Indians of southwest Missouri who repaid the favor on the visiting turf, handing Osage its’ first loss of the 2017 season by a final tally of 27-7 in a game that featured close to 15 penalties by both teams.

Though there wasn’t much to celebrate on offense, the Osage defense — which battled awful field position all night — managed to keep the game within striking distance until late in the second half. The defensive special teams unit also made a number of impact plays that kept multiple more points off the board.

Trailing 19-0 into the fourth quarter, the Osage offense that was kept quiet throughout much of the night broke its silence. With 7:58 remaining, the Osage special teams unit broke through the line and bull rushed the Seneca punter, which resulted in a blocked attempt and the Indians best field position of the night at the opposing 21-yard-line.

Then came Osage’s only score of the night when Osage senior quarterback Zach Wheeler dropped back in the pocket and connected with senior wideout Drake Gaines who used his 6-foot-3 frame to win a jump ball with a Seneca defensive back near the front corner of the end zone, almost out of bounds.

After a failed Osage onside kick attempt, Seneca would seal the game for good scoring on a 20-yard direct snap to an off-set running back as Osage defenders keyed to the quarterback and fullback over the center with 4:19 to go in the contest.

Wheeler finished the night completing 17 of his 31 attempts for 174 yards and a touchdown while the Indians put up 45 total rushing yards as a team. Gaines led all receivers with 61 receiving yards while senior running back Austin Magnuson and senior receiver Dalton Depeé added 42 and 41 receiving yards of their own.

Magnuson also had a solid night defensively with a team-leading 19 tackles while seniors Nick Riley and Hunter Davidson put up 12 tackles each. Senior Josh McCubbin was also a force and disruptor in the backfield with seven tackles that included three tackles for a loss.

School of the Osage (1-1) will host another set of Indians when Hallsville (2-0) travels to town next Friday night at 7 p.m. In last year’s battle, Osage dispatched the Tri-County Conference foe by a final score of 40 to 20.

Coming off a 41-7 blowout over Mark Twain, Hallsville comes to town with plenty of momentum for this year’s battle looking to stay perfect. Coach Ty Harrison’s Indians are currently averaging 37 points per game and the defense has been sharp allowing just 10.5 points respectively. By comparison, Osage is putting up 19.5 points per contest and allowing 26.5 points of its own.

Depeé and Gaines have been consistent targets for the strong arm of Wheeler with 229 of the team’s 359 passing yards and the duo of Riley and Magnuson in the backfield has been just as efficient with a combined 270 of the team’s 326 rushing yards.

Last year, Osage showed it could rebound well from a loss and will look to do just that in the week three conference opener. If the Indians can clean up a few mistakes, they should have little trouble getting back on track and back in the win column with all the weapons they have at their disposal.

Eldon looking to stay perfect in conference opener with Southern Boone

The end zone was not a difficult place to find when Eldon and Owensville got together on the gridiron Friday night at Victor Field.

In a rematch of last year’s district title game that ended Eldon’s 2016 season, the Mustangs and Dutchmen put on an offensive clinic that saw the two sides combine for a total of 141 points. When the dust settled and the clock hit zero, this time it was the Mustangs who were left standing in a 72-69 shootout victory for the home opener.

At one point, Eldon was staring at a 20-point deficit in the first half, but continued to fight and regained the lead in the fourth quarter. With 30 seconds to go, back-to-back sacks by senior linebacker Trenton Dillon and a combo from senior linebackers Tanner Myers and Cole Walker resulted in a safety. Then junior Landon Wall’s onside kick recovery sealed it.

Eldon senior running back Isaiah Merida led the charge as he dashed for 337 of the team’s 550 rushing yards and seven of the team’s nine total touchdowns. Dillon also had a big night offensively with 127 rushing yards while also being on the receiving end of a 79-yard touchdown pass from junior gunslinger Dawson Brandt. Junior running back Isaiah Parsons finished with 41 rushing yards and punched in the other Mustang touchdown on a 2-yard run.

Now, Eldon (2-0) will look to keep its record unblemished in conference play with Tri-County Conference foe Southern Boone coming to town Friday night at 7 p.m. In last year’s contest, the Eagles edged out the visiting Mustangs in a 14-7 low-scoring affair. Coach Trent Tracy’s team is coming off a pair of close 3-point wins against North Callaway and Wright City averaging 23 points per game while giving up 20 points of its own. After last week’s offensive onslaught, Eldon is currently averaging 51 points over the first two games while allowing 42 points at the same time.

While the Mustang defense will look to sharpen things up and do a better job of keep opponents out of the end zone, the offense has run like a finely-tuned machine and there is no reason to believe why that cannot continue to be the case with a consistent rushing attack and a passing attack that can put up points in a hurry. However, anything can happen on Friday nights and Eldon certainly won’t be taking any of its upcoming opponents lightly in the quest for the state playoffs.