Eldon Mustangs, Osage Indians, Versailles Tigers and Camdenton Lakers

Eldon looking for a spark in showdown against Southern Boone

Eldon’s campaign in 2019 has been a tough one so far.

After nearly picking up a win against Owensville in week two where the Dutchmen escaped with a late touchdown, turnovers were the culprit last week at Hallsville as four of them led to a 38-6 defeat that left the Mustangs 0-3 on the year. The deficit was 32-0 by halftime and the Mustangs faced a mountain too steep to climb.

Eldon will have to have a short memory, though, and find a way to continue progressing forward with an undefeated Southern Boone coming to town Friday night that was ranked as the sixth best Class 3 team in the state in the week three media poll.

Despite an 0-3 start, there have been positives Eldon can continue to build on.

One of those positives, that has been a staple of Eldon football for quite some time in the Wing-T offense, is the rushing game as the Mustangs are already approaching the 1,000-yard mark with 753 yards through the first three games. That is good enough for a healthy 4.7 yards per carry with the team averaging 251 yards per game. That has allowed Eldon to average 14.6 points per game so far and it is a number the team certainly wants to increase.

Senior fullback Kaden Dillon has continued to be a workhorse in the Mustang backfield behind his offensive line after rushing for his fourth touchdown of the season on a 125-yard performance against Hallsville where he averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Dillon is now up to 380 yards rushing on the year to lead Eldon (5.3 yards per carry) and he is currently averaging about 127 yards per game.

Other Mustang rushers who have made an impact are junior receiver Owen Levesque who has put up 67 yards on 14 carries while senior receiver Nathaniel Wardenburg has added 60 yards on 20 carries of his own.

Sophomore Dallas Hardy has shown that he can be a fairly mobile quarterback himself with 236 yards and two scores so far in 2019 with a healthy 4.8 yards per carry. As the young signal caller continues to develop in his first season as a starter, one area Hardy will certainly look to improve upon is his decision-making in the passing game. Hardy had a nice completion percentage against Hallsville last week, completing five of his eight passing attempts for 23 yards. Unfortunately for Hardy, those three incompletions happened to be interceptions that the Indians took advantage of.

Hardy is now 8-19 on the season for 84 yards and five picks, but the Mustangs have receivers for the sophomore to connect and develop rapport with. Wardenburg has shown some playmaking ability with two receptions that have gone for 56 yards while junior tight end P.J. Bledsoe has pulled in two receptions for 18 yards, Dillon has caught three passes for eight yards and senior receiver Blake Smith has also gotten into the mix with a catch for two yards.

On the defensive end, Eldon certainly will not be satisfied giving up 42.6 points per game. The Mustangs have also collected just two turnovers with a single fumble recovery from Dillon, who leads the team with 16 tackles, and an interception courtesy of Hardy.

Another challenge awaits Friday night as Southern Boone is coming off a 61-41 win over Versailles and looking to keep a perfect 3-0 start intact. The Eagles beat the Mustangs 39-7 last season and are currently averaging 43 points per game, allowing just 19.6 per outing.

If Eldon can avoid the turnover bug that plagued them against Hallsville, control the clock offensively with a successful ground game that can open up and compliment the pass and find a way to sharpen things up on defense and make the Eagles earn everything they get, the Mustangs may just have a formula that can lead to a win in week four and more wins as the season progresses.

Time will soon tell if Eldon is capable of doing just that when the Trip-County Conference foes kick off at 7 p.m.

Osage looking for nice Homecoming win against Hallsville

Osage found its groove in the fourth quarter of last week’s win over California. Now, the Indians would like to extend those good vibes for an entire game.

Osage’s offense struggled to find consistency for three quarters against the Pintos whether it was turnovers, penalties or any other negative play until the Indians found the spark they needed to erase a 14-7 deficit and secure a 20-14 win. Up next is a 2-1 Hallsville team that is coming off a 38-6 win of their own against Eldon and would like nothing more than to play spoiler for Homecoming festivities this Friday night.

“It takes heart, never giving up and always believing in your teammates,” said Osage senior Jack Dulle who helped the Indians make the comeback in the fourth quarter with a game-tying touchdown and fumble recovery on the next drive that set up the team’s game-winning touchdown. “That is the key to the game and key to having a great team is trust and heart. You have to play with that every down.”

Dulle is one man who can help Osage find that consistency after pulling in four receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown while adding 21 rushing yards on six carries. Dulle is up to eight receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns with another 94 yards on the ground (3.9 yards per carry) and he is not alone in potential.

Fellow senior receiver Logan Havner had a nice 25-yard touchdown catch against Hallsville and showed what his arm could do as well completing two passes for 36 yards. The 6-foot-3 wideout has caught 11 passes for 182 yards so far in 2019 and should continue to be a key target moving forward. Senior running back Matthew Hans has five receptions for 51 yards through three games and senior tight end Matthew McCubbin has started to show his presence with two receptions for 21 yards.

Meanwhile, senior James Hutchcraft has been the lead back with 243 yards and a touchdown on the season, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and a healthy mix of it all bodes well for senior quarterback Drew Edwards. The senior signal caller has completed 24 of his 42 pass attempts for 334 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception. Overall, the Indian offense is averaging 296.3 yards and has the ability to improve its 13.6 points per game as long as those costly turnovers (five interceptions and three fumbles) and penalties are avoided.

One thing that has not been a problem for Osage so far in 2019 is defense as the team is allowing just 12.3 points per outing and has not allowed any points in the second half of a game for two straight weeks. Hutchcraft has played a key role at linebacker averaging 11.7 tackles per game while senior defensive lineman Rudy Escobar is averaging 10 and the unit is currently averaging six tackles for a loss per game that includes five total sacks.

Hallsville managed to beat Osage 40-15 last season and comes to town with a win over the Mustangs where they forced four turnovers. The visiting Indians are averaging 34.6 points per game and allowing only 11.3.

“Hallsville has a lot of good athletes. They have a good senior class and a new coach, Coach (Justin) Conyers from Battle, who brings an option style to his offense but a spread option with some ‘RPO’s’ (run-pass option),” Osage coach Devin Johnson said of the opponent after Friday night’s win. “We are going to have to be very sound defensively and eliminate big plays because they have a lot of big play potential. Offensively, the key for us is controlling the ball, eating some clock, flipping the field and hoping you can get some points. But, you cannot turn it over which we did tonight. We have to fix that.”

Osage (2-1) will look to put it all together and add a second straight win when the two sides kick off at 7 p.m.

Versailles looking to turn the corner against Blair Oaks

Versailles went into week three looking for its first win of the season against an unbeaten Southern Boone team that entered the game ranked as the sixth best team in Class 3 in the statewide media poll.

But even as the Tigers entered the contest in Ashland as a winless team, they certainly did not play like it as they held a 28-27 lead at halftime and were tied with the Eagles at 35 in the third quarter before the home side eventually pulled away with 26 unanswered points in a 61-41 win.

It was a positive sign for Versailles that things may be finally starting to click, but the team will face another big challenge this week against another unbeaten in Blair Oaks who was ranked as the top Class 3 team in the state in the week two media poll.

“We played well on offense for the most part. We have Blair Oaks this week and they are another great team, obviously,” Versailles coach Broc Silvers said. “We need to be better on defense as we move forward.

“We are close to breaking through and getting a win. We will continue to keep chipping away at it.”

Returning All-State senior quarterback Coby Williams had a night statistically that resembled a lot of the things that made him worthy of that recognition as a junior. Williams had a part in all six of Versailles’ touchdowns against Southern Boone, throwing four of them and rushing for the other two. The senior gunslinger completed 35 of his 55 pass attempts for 352 yards while he rushed for 104 yards on 24 attempts.

Williams is now up to 663 passing yards with six touchdowns and interceptions and he continues to be the team’s leading rusher with 361 yards on the ground, averaging 6.1 yards per carry to go with seven more touchdowns. He also has a few targets to help him keep moving the chains.

One target who had a nice game against Southern Boone was senior receiver Dallas Waller who caught 22 passes for 219 yards and three touchdowns as he also rushed for five yards on four carries. That performance has pushed the senior to 34 receptions for 358 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Senior wideout Brayden Morrison has accumulated 11 receptions for 107 yards and a score, sophomore receiver Adam Radcliff has two catches for 66 yards and a score and senior receiver Payton LaFoy is at three receptions for 58 yards respectively. As long as Williams and his receivers are on the same page, moving the ball should not be too difficult of a task moving forward.

Senior tailback Jordan King provided some production on the ground with 27 yards on seven carries against Southern Boone and he is now up to 74 yards on the year, averaging 3.5 yards per carry. If King can find some more running room as the season progresses, a Tiger offense averaging 29 points and 375 yards per game becomes even more dynamic.

The biggest hurdle for Versailles’ path to victory has obviously been the defense as Tigers have given up no less than 50 points in any game. Opponents are currently averaging 438 yards and 55.6 points per game. Besides sound tackling and solid fundamentals, one thing the Tiger defense could use more of are turnovers as the team has just three fumble recoveries so far.

Last season, Blair Oaks beat the Tigers 37-0 as part of a perfect 15-0 season en route to a Class 2 state title. The Falcons have seemingly not skipped a beat either, coming off a 38-21 win at Boonville to move the winning streak to 18 games. The Falcons are currently averaging 35 points per contest and allowing 18.7 so the Tigers will have a good challenge ahead of them Friday night.

Versailles’ success will depend on the offense’s ability to stay consistent and the defense will have to find some answers against a sound Blair Oaks squad that has not been easy for any team to stop.

The Tri-County Conference battle will commence at 7 p.m.

Camdenton taking undefeated record to battle at Springfield Central

Camdenton had a nice test Friday night and the Lakers passed.

Camdenton entered its week three battle ranked as the second best Class 4 team in the state in a media poll that ranked West Plains as fifth on that list. Both teams reached the state quarterfinals last season as the Zizzers only lost to state champion Ladue Horton Watkins and the game Friday night lived up to the hype as the Lakers found a way to score a game-tying touchdown and 2-point conversion with 12 seconds left against the defending Ozark Conference champions that led to a game-winning field goal for a 37-34 win.

“It was just a great night,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said. “I felt like we couldn’t get anything easy tonight. We couldn’t catch a break on the flags, we couldn’t get an easy turnover- nothing came easy. Everything went wrong that could go wrong for us and to still come out on top says a lot about our team.”

The Lakers (3-0) avenged a 41-7 loss to the Zizzers a season ago and remain unbeaten with a trip to Springfield Central Friday night agains a winless Bulldogs team. Not a bad start for a team that saw the season end on a missed extra point last year as senior kicker Luke Galbreath came through and nailed a field goal of just over 20 yards to deliver the win and keep his team undefeated.

Senior returning All-State quarterback Paxton DeLaurent made the necessary plays down the stretch, finishing the night completing 31 of his 48 pass attempts for 365 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 32 rushing yards and another crucial touchdown on the ground that came with 12 seconds left in the game. DeLaurent, who broke his head coach’s record for career passing touchdowns the previous week when he threw seven against Parkview to get to 52, is now up to 939 passing yards and 13 touchdowns so far this season with just two interceptions.

A reliable receiving corps has helped him do it. Senior receiver Jase Nicklas also delivered for Camdenton in the win over West Plains as he caught eight passes for a major 176 yards and a score. The senior wideout, who had a season-ending injury a season ago, has made the most of his time in his final campaign so far with 19 receptions for 346 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Junior receiver Cooper Ezard is up to 18 receptions for 155 yards and four touchdowns, junior receiver Jayden Faulconer has 10 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown, senior wideout Talon Randazzo now has 10 catches for 82 yards and two scores and junior tailback Eli Griffin has shown reliable hands from the backfield with 13 receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown. There have been 14 different Lakers who have caught at least one pass and half of them have at least one touchdown reception.

Camdenton’s old DNA of relying on the ground game has also remained intact with the Lakers emphasizing more of the passing game since the start of last year. Griffin has 82 rushing yards on the season on 19 attempts, averaging 4.3 yards per carry with two touchdowns. Faulconer has also gotten into the mix with 35 yards and a touchdown on nine carries averaging 3.9 yards per rush and the team is at 2.4 yards per rush overall with five touchdowns- even with the ground game accounting for just seven percent of the offense.

Overall, the high-flying offense has kept its reputation as one of Missouri’s best a season ago so far in 2019 averaging 387 yards and 46.3 points per contest.

Even with a highly-productive offense, no win would be complete without a reliable defense and that side of the ball has done its job as well allowing 245.3 yards and just 17.7 points per game.

Senior linebacker Ryan Maasen leads the unit with 24 tackles on the season including two sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss while senior defensive lineman Mason Kinney has also been a force up front with 15 total tackles including a sack and seven tackles for a loss. The defense is averaging 9.8 tackles for a loss per game and has accumulated eight turnovers that include a pair of interceptions from senior defensive back Collin Thomas and Randazzo while the team has also scooped up six fumbles.

It has been a rough start for Springfield Central as the Bulldogs have not given up any less than 49 points in its three losses to Parkview, Lebanon and Glendale. Springfield Central has given up at least 61 the last two weeks alone and have managed just a single touchdown through all three contests. When the Lakers met the Bulldogs last year, Camdenton cruised to a 77-0 win.

“We just need to get back to work and keep improving from our last game,” Shore said of the road ahead. “More about watching film and working on our mistakes and correcting them this week.”

Camdenton showed quite a bit of resolve and poise, trailing with 2:25 left on the clock to come back and take care of West Plains. Now, the Lakers know they not only have those traits and can rely upon them should they need to again, but that they may certainly be worthy of their current ranking after defeating a good Zizzers team. If the Lakers resemble anything they have shown so far in 2019, the undefeated record should remain intact against Springfield Central.

The next battle gets underway Friday night at 7 p.m.