Eldon Mustangs, Versailles Tigers, Osage Indians and Camdenton Lakers

Eldon looking to remain unbeaten in road trip to Southern Boone

From the very first snap, it was clear that the Eldon-Hallsville matchup would be a wet one. However, the extent to which this would play a factor in the outcome may have been more of a surprise. The state-ranked Class 3 No. 7 Mustangs would eventually go on to win 6-0.

Throughout the night, each team had a tough time keeping their hands on the ball and keeping it from falling to the turf. Each quarter saw its share of fumbles, some leading to turnovers. The first half of the matchup saw a double goose egg 0-0 score as neither team could get the air or running game going in any way.

It wasn’t until the third quarter that Eldon was able to make the only score from either team on an awkward touchdown. The team recovered a fumble at Hallsville’s 20-yard line and proceeded to march it to the 5-yard line. However, the touchdown did not come easy as running attempts were seemingly futile with the Indian defense making a strong stand. It wasn’t until another fumble was dropped by Eldon and recovered in the end zone by sophomore tight end Fisher Snelling that the deadlock was broken.

Sophomore running back Logan Hall led the passing attack with a single completion for 40 yards to senior wideout Parker Dunham as senior quarterback Dawson Brandt completed just one pass for no gain in his five attempts while throwing an interception. On the ground, senior running back Isaiah Parsons led the charge with 73 rushing yards while Brandt finished with 47 and Hall added 42. Eldon finished the night with 201 total yards of offense.

Hallsville had multiple trips to the red zone, but each drive came up empty resulting in lost fumbles or a turnover on downs as the rain continued to pour down on Victor Field. As the clock wound down, Eldon managed to pick up the first down it needed to put the game away.

Eldon coach Chad Hult said he was glad to see his team persevere and although it was an ugly win, it is a win the team will be glad to have as they move to 3-0 on the year.

“We fought through adversity and were able to come out on top,” the coach said. “Every win is a big win, but to see the kids come together and push through was a great sign for us.”

Up next for the district-leading Mustangs is a trip to Class 3. No. 9 Southern Boone (2-1) who is coming off a 30-22 loss at the hands of Versailles. The Eagles are currently averaging 41.6 points per contest while allowing 14.3 points per outing respectively. By comparison, Eldon is putting up 27.3 points and giving up just 10.6 points per outing.

The Mustang defense has been a force behind the efforts of All-State safety Brandt (14 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions) and Parsons at linebacker (10 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble). Meanwhile, Hall’s efforts at defensive back has seen the junior record six tackles while recovering two fumbles and picking off an errant throw.

Unsurprisingly, Eldon’s ground attack has continued to be a steady force in 2018 as the team has totaled 885 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns behind the legs of Brandt (362 yards, 4 touchdowns), Parsons (276 yards, 6 touchdowns), Hall (168 yards) and sophomore tailback Braday Hill who has added 73 yards to the cause on just 17 carries. Meanwhile, Brandt has added 136 yards and a touchdown through the air and Hall’s hands have proven to be a valuable asset with 85 receiving yards and a score while senior tight end Charlie Mays has contributed 59 yards on two receptions.

It has been a good run for Eldon so far and as long as the efforts on both sides of the ball continue to come from a multitude of Mustangs, the good times may very well continue for the defending district champions who have won four of their past six meetings with Southern Boone.

Versailles looking for third straight win in trip to Blair Oaks

Playing its home and conference opener on a Thursday night to avoid even more inclement weather on a Friday, Versailles was ready to go against Southern Boone and it showed as the Class 2 Tigers outlasted the Class 3 state-ranked No. 9 Eagles 30-22 for the program’s first win over the Tri-County Conference foe since 2012.

“Our guys played a great game. It was not entirely flawless, but it is safe to say that this is the biggest upset for us in the past six years,” Versailles coach Broc Silvers said. “No win is bigger than a playoff victory, but beating a state-ranked team a class above ours is huge for our team.”

Versailles struck first to gain the early lead and the Tigers never let it go, despite Southern Boone repeatedly knocking on the door. Versailles held a slim 15-13 advantage at halftime and continued to outpace the visitors over the final 24 minutes, outgaining Southern Boone with 350 yards of total offense to 229.

Versailles junior quarterback Coby Williams led a balanced attack offensively, putting up 159 of the team’s 202 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground while completing 13 of his 21 passes for another 148 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.

Senior wideout Wyatt Espinosa led the receiving corps with seven receptions for 86 yards and a score while senior receiver Colbey Boicourt hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass for his only catch of the night. However, Williams was able to find six different receivers for at least one catch to keep the Eagle defense on its toes.

On the defensive end, junior defensive back Brayden Morrision led Versailles with five tackles while Trotter turned in four from his position at linebacker. The Tigers managed to give Southern Boone some fits in the backfield with seven tackles for a loss, including a sack, and junior defensive lineman led the way with 2.5 of them.

Now, with two straight wins in its pocket against larger Class 3 opponents after last week’s win at Buffalo, Versailles (2-1, 1-0 Tri-County Conference) sits second in the district standings trailing only undefeated Lamar who is currently the top-ranked team in the state.

“I could not be more proud of our guys to get this win and hopefully that will give us more confidence going against the rest of our conference schedule,” Silvers said. “This win will also be big for us in terms of district standings and our goal of hosting a playoff game week 10.”

The Tigers will seek to keep the momentum going and knock off another state-ranked opponent when they visit the Class 2 No. 2 Blair Oaks on Friday at 7 p.m.

Blair Oaks (3-0) is currently averaging 39 points per game and the defense is only giving up 11.6 points per game after pitching two straight shutouts in lopsided wins over Oak Grove and conference newcomer Boonville. By comparison, Versailles is averaging 31.6 points per outing and the defensive unit is giving 37 points per game.

For the success to continue, Versailles will need to remain balanced offensively behind Williams (450 rushing yards, 363 passing yards, 11 total touchdowns). For that to happen, he will need solid protection up front on the offensive line and for his targets remain diverse with eight different players having at least one reception. Espinosa leads the receiving corps with 13 receptions for 189 yards and three touchdowns and he will certainly be hungry to add to that production. The defense has stood tall the past two weeks with Trotter (43.5 tackles 4 tackles for a loss) leading the way and Williams has also been opportunistic as a safety with two interceptions and a fumble recovery as a touchdown.

If the Tigers continue to fire on all cylinders, they may very well continue their role as spoilers to state-ranked teams.

Osage seeks fifth straight win over Hallsville

For the second straight week, Osage set out for a gridiron battle under less than ideal conditions.

This time, the Indians were prepared as they took down host California 13-7 to bring home a win in the Tri-County Conference opener.

Special teams led to an early break for Osage as a blocked punt from Osage junior Drew Edwards early in the first quarter was recovered at the 1-yard line and Edwards proceeded to run in a short 1-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. Later near the end of the first quarter, Osage extended its lead to 13-0 on a 3-yard run from senior quarterback Dalton Depeé.

That proved to be all Osage needed as the Pintos’ only score of the night came on a 67-yard touchdown pass near the end of the third quarter. The Indian defense stood its ground the rest of the way and once again, it was Edwards who showed up big for Osage as the linebacker ended any threat from California with a big sack on 4th-and-14 at the California 41-yard line with under a minute left in the contest.

It was not a clean game in the messy conditions as Depeé completed just one of his eight passes for a negative yard and lost two fumbles, but the running game was solid as the team totaled 177 yards on the ground. Senior running back Hunter Neiman paced Osage with 95 rushing yards while Depeé finished with 37 to go with his score and junior tailback Jack Dulle put up 26 respectively.

Depeé also helped his own cause defensively at defensive back as he led the team with 15 total tackles while forcing a fumble.

Meanwhile, senior defensive lineman Mason Etter had a big game on the defensive end as he recorded 12 tackles, a sack, forced two fumbles and had an interception. Both Edwards and junior linebacker James Hutchcraft added 11 tackles each to help keep the Pintos quiet as well.

It was a solid rebound for Osage after a disappointing 34-0 shutout on a rainy night in Moberly the week prior. The Indians (2-1, 1-0 Tri-County Conference) currently sit fourth in the Class 3 District 5 standings behind Eldon, Springfield Catholic and Salem and will return to action with a visit to Hallsville on Friday at 7 p.m, to complete its three-game road trip before returning home for a showdown with Southern Boone the following week.

Osage has won four straight and four of the last six in its annual matchup with the other Indians. Osage may very well add to the streak against an 0-3 Hallsville team that has only scored 16 points in three games suffering from two straight shutouts while allowing an average of 22 points per game.

Meanwhile, Osage’s offense is scoring 18.3 points per game and the defense is giving up an average of 22.6.

The ground game has been a solid force for Osage as the Indians are currently averaging 200.3 per contest behind the legs of Depeé (195 yards, 2 touchdowns), Dulle (135 yards) and Neiman (95 yards). If Osage can get back to being effective in the passing game as well, the offense will be that much more of a threat. Depeé and Edwards have answered the call defensively leading the team with 32 tackles each while Hutchcraft has put up 30 and if the Indians can build upon the six total turnovers they have caused, Hallsville may have trouble finding its first win of the season.

Time will soon tell what the next chapter in this battle has in store.

Camdenton hoping to bounce back against Springfield Central

The rain in West Plains Friday night also rained on Camdenton’s parade as the Zizzers took advantage of five Laker turnovers on their way to a 41-7 win in a battle of state-ranked Class 4 teams.

The night started off well for the Class 4 No. 5 Lakers, who came into Friday night’s matchup unbeaten after cruising to wins over Waynesville and Parkview, as an 83-yard strike from junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent to senior wideout Jaben Shockley had the Lakers knocking on the door. A few moments later, DeLaurent found junior running back Jase Nicklas on a 2-yard touchdown toss on 4th-and-goal to make it 7-0 early in the first quarter.

Then, West Plains responded with 41 unanswered points as the Class 4 No. 6 Zizzers marched past Camdenton with 384 rushing yards and 71 yards through the air while the Laker offense struggled to find its footing with three fumbles and a pair of interceptions. It was just a 21-7 game at halftime, but the advantage was more than enough as West Plains did not skip a beat after an hour-long rain delay before the fourth quarter.

DeLaurent finished his night completing 18 of his 38 pass attempts for 187 yards in the Lakers’ pass-heavy offense. Shockley led the receiving corps with five receptions for 91 yards while Nicklas also hauled in five passes for 33 yards and a score and senior wideout Gabe Kurtz added two catches for 37 yards respectively.

Camdenton (2-1, 2-1 Ozark Conference) is currently second in the Class 4 District 5 standings behind undefeated St. Francis Borgia and the Lakers will look to get back on track when they host Ozark Conference newcomer Springfield Central on Friday at 7 p.m.

It has been tough sledding for the new kids on the block as the Bulldogs (0-3) have been outscored 181 to 20 and are coming off blowout shutout losses to Lebanon and Glendale. Meanwhile, Camdenton is currently averaging 33.3 points per game offensively while the defense is allowing 15.6 points per outing. This week may have been a setback, but Camdenton certainly has the tools to get back on track.

In the passing game, DeLaurent has already thrown for 818 yards and 10 touchdowns with just three interceptions and Nicklas has emerged as the top receiving threat with 15 receptions for 183 yards and two scores. Meanwhile, Kurtz has put up 148 yards on 10 receptions, Shockley has put up 190 on eight, senior tailback Lathan Wise has added 138 on six and senior wideout Cooper Ezard has been efficient in the red zone with eight receptions for 72 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Unlike prior seasons, there has not been much of a ground game this year but sophomore running back Eli Griffin has been able to put points on the board with 14 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries.

Stats were not taken defensively at West Plains, but Kurtz has led the way as a defensive back leading the team with nine total tackles while Shockley has contributed eight. The “Purple Haze” defense would certainly like to get back to forcing turnovers having secured four fumble recoveries and an interception.

Time will soon tell if the Lakers can put it all together when they return to the friendly confines of the “Jaws of Death” at Bob Shore Stadium on Friday.