Osage Indians, Versailles Tigers, Camdenton Lakers and Eldon Mustangs

Keys to the game for Versailles and Osage

Versailles and School of the Osage should be hungry.

Both sides will renew their annual matchup on the gridiron Friday night coming off lopsided losses and the opportunity to not only get back on the right track but stake a claim in Lake area bragging rights should serve as more than enough motivation to walk off the field with a win. The Indians (2-4, 1-3 Tri-County Conference) will be seeking their first win since September 7 and the Tigers (3-3, 2-2 Tri-County Conference) will be eager to earn a fourth win in a season for the first time since 2011. Last season Osage handed Versailles a sound 48-8 defeat, but it has no bearing on what will transpire Friday night.

VERSAILLES KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Raise The Bar

Versailles has already hit a few milestones this season. After a tough season-opening loss to Knob Noster, the Class 2 Tigers responded with back-to-back wins over two larger Class 3 teams in Buffalo and a state-ranked Southern Boone the program has not beaten since 2012. Osage would serve as another nice drought-ending win if the Tigers have what it takes to knock off the Indians for the first time since 2010. With the weapons Versailles has on offense behind the leadership of a dual-threat quarterback and a defense that has shown it can make stands in crunch time, there is no reason why Versailles cannot continue to raise the bar and raise the expectations as it continues to work towards the playoffs. The Tigers are currently third in the district standings, trailing only Lamar and El Dorado Springs, and as long as they stay in the top four they will have at least one playoff game in front of the home crowd.

2. Put the Pedal Down

Versailles will be taking on an Osage team that has suffered three straight losses in which the Indians have given up 40 or more points. In all four losses this season, Osage has allowed a minimum of 34 points and is currently allowing 31.5 points per game so the Tigers should be eager to unleash the offense. It will start with the field general at quarterback in junior Coby Williams who has thrown for 902 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions while rushing for another 510 yards and nine touchdowns to keep defenses honest. Senior running back Michael Trotter has been a steady force on the ground as well with 276 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and nine different Tiger receivers have recorded at least one catch to keep the chains moving. Senior receiver Wyatt Espinosa is always a threat with 26 receptions for 335 yards and six touchdowns and junior running back Dallas Waller has also provided a steady pair of hands with 20 receptions for 199 yards while junior wideout Brayden Morrison has 10 catches for 153 yards respectively. If Versailles can keep Osage on its heels and get more than a handful of weapons involved, it should translate to plenty of points on the scoreboard.

3. Isolate the Quarterback

Osage has struggled to put up points this season, scoring no more than 15 points in any game since a solid 42-27 season-opening win over Fulton. The Indian offense, which is averaging 14 points per contest, generally relies on the playmaking ability of dual-threat senior quarterback Dalton Depeé and teams have been able to find a way to largely shut down one aspect of the game whether it was the run or the pass. Versailles will have to be the next team in line if it hopes to come out on top Friday night and while shutting down an entire offense is easier said than done, slowing down Depeé and forcing other players to step up can make a huge difference in that task. The Tigers are currently averaging a solid 6.8 tackles for a loss per game so far in 2018 and senior linebacker Michael Trotter has led the charge with an eye-opening 78.5 tackles of which 13.5 have resulted in a loss including three sacks. Versailles has also forced six total turnovers including a pair of interceptions from junior safety Coby Williams and senior defensive back Colbey Boicourt and they will not forget that Depeé has thrown five interceptions. If Versailles can make Osage earn everything it gets and potentially force a turnover or two to secure nice field position, the fourth win of the season will be in reach.

OSAGE KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Any Given Friday

Osage has certainly seen better days. The Indians have not suffered four losses in the first six weeks of a season since 2013 and have not finished with a losing record since 2015, but all that matters is taking care of business against the opponent lined up across them on any given Friday night. The past cannot be changed, but the Indians can control their future and have an opportunity to jump back in the win column against Versailles Friday night and finish the season strong. If the offense can find its rhythm once again and the defense can get back to keeping the opposing offense off the field, it can set the right tone moving forward. Several players have been thrust into new roles with some seeing the Friday night lights for the first time this season, but each week should always be a learning experience in the continual mission to get better and better each time out on the gridiron. Osage has put together seven straight wins over Versailles by no less than a 23-point margin and should be anxious to continue that trend in front of the home crowd Friday night.

2. Find The Balance

School of the Osage has the playmakers in its arsenal to move the chains. There is the elusiveness of dual threat senior quarter quarterback Dalton Depeé who has thrown for 375 yards and three touchdowns to go with 373 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns and he has a fair share of targets to go to. Through the air, there is the vertical 6-foot-4 senior tight end Garrett Sutherland who has hauled in eight receptions for 148 yards and two scores while 6-foot-3 junior wideout Logan Havner has caught 10 passes for 96 yards of his own. Junior running back Matt Hans has also found the end zone with six receptions for 45 yards and nine different Indians have pulled in at least one pass. On the ground, there are four other Indians who have rushed for over 100 yards on the season averaging no less than 3.5 yards per carry. Junior tailback Jack Dulle has dashed for 235 rushing yards, Hans has 116 yards to go with a touchdown, senior tailback Hunter Neiman has 114 yards and junior James Hutchcraft has totaled 108 so far. Meanwhile, junior quarterback Drew Edwards also has a tendency to find the end zone with 34 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries. The Versailles defense is currently allowing 31.7 points per game so if the Indians can consistently put it all together by getting everyone involved, they can wear the Tiger defense out.

3. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure

The number one task for Osage Friday night will likely be halting Versailles junior quarterback Coby Williams in his tracks. The dual-threat ability of Williams that keeps defenses on their toes-whether it is his ability to find the open man, extend plays or simply beat would-be tacklers with his feet- must be stopped if the Indians are going to keep the Tigers out of the end zone. Applying some pressure on Williams and making him uncomfortable in the pocket while containing his ability to take off will pay dividends. Just one other Tiger in senior running back Michael Trotter has more than 100 rushing yards and if Osage’s secondary is up to the task of slowing down senior receiver Wyatt Espinosa, junior tailback Dallas Waller or junior receiver Brayden Morrison in the air, Williams will have a tough time moving the chains. Osage averages just three tackles for a loss per game, but the Indians do have six sacks on the season with junior linebacker Drew Edwards leading the way with three while senior linebacker Jacob Smith has two. The defensive unit has also forced nine total turnovers including four interceptions with two from senior defensive back Dalton Depeé while senior defensive lineman Mason Etter has caused three fumbles. Versailles is putting up 24.5 points per contest and that figure can become smaller if the defense gets back to flying to the football.

Camdenton aiming for second straight win over Glendale

It was the tale of two halves as the Camdenton Lakers found a way to come back from a 28-7 deficit at halftime to win 34-28 at home against rivals Lebanon.

The scene was set as Camdenton seniors were honored before the game. However, the calm was short lived as both teams stormed onto the field and the tension of the rivalry made itself felt.

The game opened with Lebanon making an error and, instead of allowing the kickoff to travel out of bounds, grabbing it and heading out at their 6 yard line. Though it looked as though Camdenton might have the upper hand, Lebanon was able to ease their was down the field and score the game’s opening touchdown.

This would be the theme of the first half as Camdenton’s defense seemed to have few answers for Lebanon’s rushing attack that finished the night with 62 carries. The Yellowjackets opened a 20-0 lead before the Lakers found the end zone and held a comfortable 28-7 halftime advantage.

How quickly things can change.

Camdenton opened the second half with a touchdown to chop the deficit in half and then a momentum-changing play occurred on the ensuing drive when senior defensive lineman Kylan Draper scooped up a fumble near midfield and returned it to the house to make it 28-21.

Just a minute into the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent found some running room and rushed for a touchdown to tie it up at 28. With only 2:22 remaining on the clock, the Lakers took the lead for good with another touchdown and Lebanon’s run-heavy offense soon found itself having to pass to make amends. The “Purple Haze” defense stood firm, though, forcing a turnover on downs and the comeback of 27 straight unanswered points was complete.

Camdenton coach Jeff Shore was expectedly thrilled after the game. He cited the fumble recovery by Draper as the big momentum shift that the team needed to get back into the game and also said that the defense showed up big in the second half. He says the team’s ability to stay calm was huge in the long term and was proud of the closing effort displayed by the team. Overall, a great example of “Laker football.”

“This was such a great win,” Shore said. “We believed we could win and these guys did a great job.”

Delaurent ended the game going 26-32 for 257 yards in the air with one touchdown and an interception and two touchdowns on the ground. Senior receiver Gabe Kurtz was the primary target, grabbing 10 catches for 75 yards, and fellow senior receiver Cash Calton would grab the only passing touchdown with three catches and 35 yards. Sophomore running back Eli Griffin rushed for 21 yards and made a touchdown run of his own respectively.

Next week, Camdenton (5-1, 5-1 Ozark Conference) will face off against a Glendale team (2-4, 2-4 Ozark Conference) coming off a 38-7 win over Kickapoo in the regular season home finale at 7 p.m.

Last season, the Lakers were able to outpace the Falcons 63-36 and have won four of their past six meetings with the Ozark Conference foe. It could very well be another high-scoring affair as Camdenton is currently averaging 44.3 points and giving up just 15.2 points per outing while Glendale is averaging 40.7 points and allowing 28.2 points respectively.

One thing for certain is that the ball will likely be in the air quite often as both teams now employ a pass-heavy scheme in their offensive plans of attack.

Glendale will have to figure out how to slow down DeLaurent (1,469 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and five interceptions) and his band of speedy receivers. Senior Jaben Shockley has become one of the top receiving threats (20 receptions, 320 yards and three touchdowns) along with Kurtz (25 receptions, 314 yards and one touchdown), junior wideout Jase Nicklas (17 receptions, 193 yards and two touchdowns) and Calton (18 receptions, 174 yards and five touchdowns). Overall, the Lakers have seven players who have accumulated over 100 receiving yards in 2018. On the ground, sophomore tailback Eli Griffin can also do some damage with 62 rushing yards (3.3 yards per carry) and five touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Camdenton will have to limit the damage of Glendale sophomore quarterback Blaine Hutson who has totaled 1,615 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions to go with 45 rushing yards and another four touchdowns as the team’s leading rusher.

The biggest receiving threat is senior wideout Winston Quinn (39 receptions, 464 yards and four touchdowns) along with senior receiver Ryan Moon (47 receptions, 415 yards and three touchdowns) junior Sam Conyers (18 receptions, 330 yards and four touchdowns) and sophomore Jack Clinkenbeard (24 receptions, 315 yards and three touchdowns). The Falcons have seven receivers with over 100 receiving yards overall.

Time will soon tell which side employs the most fireworks Friday night.

Eldon seeking third straight win over Boonville

Eldon unleashed the offense Friday night.

After scoring just 19 points combined in the last three games, the Mustangs put together their highest scoring output of the season in a trip to California and it led to a 46-35 win over the winless Pintos.

Eldon would need most of those points, too, as there was not much separation between the two sides for the better part of three quarters. The Mustangs opened up a 16-7 lead after the first quarter and held a 24-15 lead at halftime, but the Pintos managed to cut the gap to 24-21 with about six minutes remaining in the third. Then, Eldon decided to essentially shut the door with 22 straight unanswered points.

Senior tailback Isaiah Parsons put together a big night on the ground, rushing for a team-leading 163 of the team’s 358 total rushing yards on 32 carries for two touchdowns. Junior running back Logan Hall maintained the pace, adding 157 yards on 24 carries and a score while hauling in two passes for 66 yards and a touchdown from junior quarterback Collin Tamm. Tamm was efficient, completing three of his four pass attempts for 92 yards with the other completed pass going to Parsons for 26 yards.

Eldon improved to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the Tri-County Conference. Up next for the Mustangs is a trip to conference newcomer Boonville (4-2, 3-1 Tri-County Conference) on Friday at 7 p.m.

Last season, Eldon downed the Pirates on the road 30-15 in the season opener and took care of business with a 41-13 win in 2016. Picking up a third straight win is no guarantee, though, as Boonville has started clicking with three straight wins where the Pirates have scored over 40 points. Currently, the team is averaging 29.2 points and giving up 18 points per game. Comparatively, Eldon is putting up 23.5 points and giving up 25.8 points per outing.

One man the Eldon defense will have circled on its scouting report is junior tailback Avian Thomas who has 846 rushing yards (7.1 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. Just last week, he galloped for 313 yards and six touchdowns in a win against Versailles. Junior quarterback Nick Ferrari has been fairly efficient with 713 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions through the air and the Mustangs will also have to watch out for junior receiver Trammel Coleman who has 16 receptions for 243 yards and three touchdowns of his own.

Eldon’s efforts to slow that offense down can be helped by returning All-State safety Dawson Brandt (32 tackles, two forced fumbles, three interceptions) if he is able to return fro an injury that has sidelined him the past two games. Up front, junior linebacker Kaden Dillon (35 tackles, one forced fumble) and senior linebacker Isaiah Parsons (39 tackles, four tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles) will have to be on their toes.

Boonville will have a few Mustangs to worry about as well in Parsons (601 rushing yards, 5.1 yards per carry and eight touchdowns) and Hall (430 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, one touchdown) on the ground. Brandt is also a threat at quarterback, should he return, with 467 rushing yards and four touchdowns of his own. Hall has also emerged as a receiving threat with eight receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns while senior tight end Charlie Mays (two receptions for 59 yards) and senior wideout Parker Dunham (two receptions for 46 yards) have the potential to sneak behind any defense worried about the running game.

Time will soon tell which offense is able to be slowed down first.