Osage, Eldon, Camdenton and Versailles

Osage and Eldon Keys to the Game

TALE OF THE TAPE:

Osage: 33.2 points per game and 24.8 points allowed

Eldon: 49.8 points per game and 29.2 points allowed

A rivalry does not get much better than the annual meeting between School of the Osage and Eldon.

This battle for Highway 54 bragging rights has featured its fair share of exciting matchups over the years in the regular season and playoffs with hard-fought wins that have been earned on both sides. With passionate fans, big-time plays and the pride of each school on the line, there is not much more you could ask for beneath the Friday night lights. Since the start of this decade, this series has been closely contested with the Indians leading the series 6-4. However, the Mustangs currently have the last laugh after picking up a 39-36 win on their rival’s home field in last year’s district semifinal game.

Without further ado, here are the keys to the game between Osage (4-3) and Eldon (6-1), who was ranked as the No. 9 Class 3 team in the state before last week’s win at Versailles.

OSAGE

1. All Four Quarters

School of the Osage showed what it was capable of in last week’s game against an undefeated Blair Oaks team that came to the Lake as the Class 3 No. 2 ranked team in the state of Missouri. In the first half, the Indians held a solid 19-8 lead and were tied with the Falcons at 26 in the third quarter before the visitors took advantage of a few turnovers and rattled off 26 unanswered points of their own to create the final margin. The grueling pace of a 48-minute football game can naturally wear some players down, but the fourth quarter is where it really counts as a team is usually tested and has to make their stand to be the team ahead when the clock hits zero. If the Indians can get back on track and play those final 12 minutes just as well as they have generally played the first three quarters this season, the bragging rights may belong to them once again Friday night. Time will soon tell if they are willing to rise to the occasion.

2. Unleash The Arsenal

One of the reasons that Osage has been able to put up touchdowns on a regular basis is that they do not have to rely on a handful of key players to get the job done. A total of 15 players have rushed the ball at least once so far this season while eight different players have logged a reception. Overall, those efforts have led to an average of 379 total yards of offense per game. Senior running back Nick Riley (539 rushing yards, 6.3 yards per carry and 8 touchdowns) has led the charge on the ground while fellow senior running back Austin Magnuson (338 yards. 5.1 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns) has also displayed a set of reliable legs. Senior quarterback Zach Wheeler has been a gunslinger with 1,429 passing yards and 18 touchdowns with most of those yards going to a deadly receiver duo in senior Drake Gaines (34 catches, 546 yards and 7 touchdowns) and junior Dalton Depeé (32 catches, 402 yards and 5 touchdowns). Riley and Magnuson have also been reliable receivers out of the backfield with a combined 456 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns. Osage has the weapons to move the chains and the Indians just have to be consistent in maximizing their opportunities every time the offense takes the field.

3. Dominate The Trenches

The front seven of Osage among the defensive line and linebacking corps has to bring their ‘A-Game’ Friday night. Eldon’s rushing attack has punished most opponents all season as nine different ball carriers have combined to put up an eye-opening 2,589 rushing yards with 40 touchdowns and an average of 7.2 yards per carry. While the Mustangs have drawn alarming attention to the run, it has also allowed them to go big in the passing game with 495 yards and eight total touchdowns on the year. Put it all together and Eldon has practically been able to score at will with 440 yards of total offense per game. To combat this, Osage must absolutely be the more physical team up front penetrating the backfield and putting pressure on the quarterback to force quick and uncomfortable throws. The Indian defensive unit has averaged 7.1 tackles for a loss in each game with senior defensive lineman Josh McCubbin leading the way with 13 tackles for a loss and linebacker Magnuson and junior linebacker Traygen Whittle putting up seven tackles for a loss each. Osage has also averaged 2.4 sacks per game and McCubbin has been a reliable quarterback hunter with 10 to his name so far in 2017. If the Indian defense can disrupt the flow of Eldon’s high-powered offense, the night should go well.

ELDON

1. Defend Home Turf

Friday night’s contest against Osage will be the regular season home finale for Eldon in the friendly confines of Victor Field and there is nothing the Mustangs would like more than to end the regular season undefeated on their home field. That will serve as plenty of motivation and to do so against a traditional rival would be icing on the cake as Eldon has won all four of its home games by an average of 25 points. Another source of motivation is the current district standings where Eldon sits in second place with 42.38 points behind first place Springfield Catholic which has 47.21 points respectively. If Eldon can finish out the season strong and finish as the top seed in the district, the playoffs will run through Eldon where the Mustangs have made Victor Field a tough place to play. Time will soon tell if Eldon is ready to make that happen.

2. Fire On All Cylinders

Most defenses have been unable to figure out how to stop Eldon from scoring all season. With a strong and reliable offensive line up front, speed and strength have been the calling card as the Mustangs have put on an offensive clinic. If the defense tries to take away the run, Eldon has been able to go deep on a number of occasions and if the defense has simply looked to contain it all, Eldon’s running backs have been able to get loose and outrun defenders week after week. Eldon has scored 30 or more points in five of the team’s seven games with another game resulting in a 29-7 win so slowing this offensive machine down has been easier said than done. Speedy senior running back Isaiah Merida (1,001 rushing yards, 9.1 yards per carry and 15 touchdowns) and the punishing junior fullback Isaiah Parsons (568 yards, 4.7 yards per carry and 13 touchdowns) have led the charge on the ground and have been a deadly combo all season. At quarterback is junior Dawson Brandt who has shown dual-threat ability with 444 passing yards and eight passing touchdowns to go with 367 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Then there is the receiving corps where senior Trenton Dillon has put up 155 yards and three touchdowns on just three receptions while rushing for 394 yards and another touchdown. Merida has put up 127 yards and two receiving touchdowns as well and senior Austin Pipes has three catches for 107 yards and two scores of his own. If Eldon can get the chains moving once again, it may be a long night for the visitors.

3. Contain and Capitalize

Osage has displayed a deadly balanced attack with multiple weapons in the backfield and reliable targets at wide receiver so the Mustang defense cannot take anything for granted and stay on its toes. Eldon has given up a few big plays this year, but it has also answered the call more times than not and will be tasked to do so once again with an Indian offense that loves to keep attacking and wear opponents down. Osage may be able to score, but it has also been turnover prone with 12 interceptions and six fumbles. With that in mind, Eldon may very well be pinning its ears back after last week’s game against Versailles where the defensive back Merida returned a fumble for a touchdown, the defensive back Brandt picked off a pass and senior linebacker Cole Walker also recorded an interception. Of course, an ideal situation would be a game where a defense does not have to rely on turnovers to win. However, if Eldon can contain and keep everything in front of them making Osage earn every yard while capitalizing on the turnovers that may present themselves, the Mustangs may very well win their fourth straight game.

Camdenton looking to secure Ozark Conference crown at Joplin

Camdenton remains in the hunt for the Ozark Conference title.

The state-ranked Class 4 No. 8 Lakers visited conference foe Waynesville Friday night looking to stay atop the conference standings with Joplin and they managed to do just that with a 28-7 win over the winless Tigers. It was yet another game where the Camdenton rushing attack was relentless as the “Hogs” took care of business up front and allowed the team to dictate the tempo and rush for a total of 294 yards and four touchdowns.

Camdenton did not waste any time finding the end zone. On the team’s first play from scrimmage, senior fullback Seth Harris returned from his 1-game suspension with a bang as he dashed 57 yards to the house to quickly put the Lakers up 7-0.

Then the Lakers lined up and did it again. Camdenton kept their second drive alive drawing Waynesville offsides on fourth-and-short and Harris made a spectacular leaping one-handed grab on a pass from senior quarterback Isaiah Lumley to put the Lakers in the red zone. On the very next play, senior running back Jay Griffin ran in a 15-yard touchdown untouched to make it 14-0.

The Tigers managed to cut the deficit in half to 14-7 before halftime though with a short touchdown run of their own. Unfortunately for Waynesville, it would be the only score of the night.

Camdenton’s offense marched right back down the field to start the second half, but came up empty on fourth down at the Tiger 4-yard line. The “Purple Haze” defense set them right back up though as senior defensive lineman Luke Rasmussen recovered a fumble at the Waynesville 8-yard line. Moments later, senior fullback Todd Simpson flew over the line for a 1-yard run to make it 21-7. The final score of the night came from senior slotback Jackson Ezard as he ran 31 yards untouched on a misdirection play.

Harris led the ground game with 76 yards and two scores on 12 carries while Ezard added 70 yards and a score on six carries, Griffin put up 29 yards and a score on two runs and Simpson finished with six carries for 22 yards respectively. Lumley finished the night completing six of his nine passes for 98 yards and senior wideout Jacob Hill hauled in three receptions for 45 yards. Defensively, the Lakers held Waynesville to a mere 121 yards of total offense.

Now the Lakers (6-1) turn their attention to a 6-1 Joplin team Friday night in a pivotal matchup that will decide the conference title.

Curtis Japser’s Eagles picked up a 35-0 shutout at Lebanon last week and are currently averaging 34.1 points per game while allowing 26 points per contest. Sophomore quarterback Blake Tash has been sharp all season completing 75 percent of his passes for 1,381 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions. His favorite target has been fellow sophomore Zach Westmoreland who has hauled in 54 catches for 663 yards and four scores. Senior receiver Spencer Cornett has also been a big threat with 32 catches for 334 yards and three scores. On the ground, senior Ja’Shawn Ellis has been a workhorse with 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns of his own .

Meanwhile, Camdenton is averaging 37.8 points per game while the defense is giving up 21.1 points per outing. Simpson, Harris and Ezard have been an absolute force in the rushing game as the trio have rushed for 1,280 of the team’s 2,312 rushing yards and 17 of the team’s 27 rushing touchdowns. Lumley has been sharp under center as well completing 69 percent of his passes for 645 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Ezard has hauled in 17 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns while Hill, who also has 247 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, has pulled down 11 receptions for 165 yards and two scores.

If the numbers are any indication, Friday night’s contest could shape up to be an exciting one in Southwest Missouri. The Lakers will take the field in Joplin at 7 p.m.

Versailles looking to bounce back at Hallsville

Versailles had the tough task of stopping the high-powered offense of Eldon Friday night.

Whether the state-ranked Class 3 No. 9 Mustangs chose to go to the air or keep it on the ground, they scored quickly and scored often. The defense was not too bad either and the end result was a 69-20 win over the host Tigers.

What turned out to be a lopsided score had a much different beginning. On the very first play from scrimmage, Versailles sophomore quarterback Coby Williams launched a 40-yard deep ball to senior wideout Kooper Wilson to put the Tigers in business in Eldon territory at the 38-yard line. However, a turnover on downs gave Eldon the ball and they quickly answered needing a total of just four plays to go up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter.

The offensive fury continued with the score being 35-0 before Versailles struck back midway through the second quarter.

Williams hit senior Jonathon Geier for an 80-yard tight end dump to cut the deficit to 35-7. Versailles had a number of other big plays, but often found itself stymied with penalties or turnovers when the Tigers began knocking on the door. Later in the half, Versailles junior running back Michael Trotter busted out a 33-yard touchdown run, but Eldon’s offense could not be slowed down and the score was 63-13 by halftime.

With the game well in hand, both sides added just one more score in the final 24 minutes. For Versailles, the Williams-Geier connection struck pay dirt one more time on a 60-yard pass play to create the final margin.

Versailles (2-5) will take a trip to Hallsville (4-3) Friday night. Silvers was pleased with the sparks his Tigers showed at multiple times throughout the night. Now, they just need to ignite the fire and put it all together by the time the playoffs arrive in three weeks.

Trotter rushed for 155 of the team’s 193 rushing yards and a score. Through the air, Williams completed 15 of his 23 passes for 251 yards and two scores with Geier hauling in those two touchdown passes for 155 receiving yards on three catches. Wilson also had a big night for the Tigers as he pulled down 10 catches for 84 yards of his own.

“The offensive line did a great job,” the coach pointed out. “Michael ran for over 150 yards so hats off to him because he has never been a feature back before. He ran the ball extremely hard and I could not be more proud of our guys up front against a team that was probably a little bit bigger and stronger than us… Our receivers also did a great job tonight.

“Eldon is a good program, no doubt about it, and Hallsville is getting better. Everybody in our conference is tough and it is another challenge for us this week. We’ll have to watch some film and go back to work… clean up our side of it and make us a little better for week 10,” he added.

Hallsville comes into Friday night’s contest on the losing end of a 40-33 shootout with Warsaw. The Indians are currently averaging 26.4 points per game and allowing 20.1 points per contest respectively. By comparison, Versailles is putting up 21.4 points per game and giving up 37.4 points per contest.

Versailles has shown week after week that it has weapons in its arsenal. The Tigers have a solid ground game that averages 4.8 yards per carry behind senior running back Taylor Dobbins’ 447 yards and five touchdowns on the year. The passing game has also been effective with Wilson’s 39 catches for 549 yards and three scores, senior tight end Jonathon Geier’s six catches for 189 yards and two scores and senior wideout Wyatt Espinosa’s 10 catches for 125 yards. Leading it all is a dual-threat quarterback in Williams who has put up 1,118 passing yards and another 250 rushing yards.

The last two meetings between these two sides have been close as the games have been decided by a combined eight points. If Versailles can sharpen things up on the defensive side of the ball and prevent big plays, the Tigers may very well pick up their second straight road win at the school. The two sides will clash in conference action at 7 p.m.