WEEK 3 PREVIEWS: Keys to the game for Osage and Eldon
One of the most fun rivalries at the Lake is back and football fans only had to wait until week three in 2020.
School of the Osage and Eldon will renew another battle on the gridiron Friday night and it will be Senior Night for the Indians when the Mustangs come to town. After cruising to victories in their season openers at home, both teams took a step back with losses on the road in week two. Only one team will be able to reclaim a little of that momentum back when these rivals kick off at 7 p.m.
Osage won the 2019 regular season finale at Eldon in late October, 44-24.
OSAGE KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Back to Business
School of the Osage was in decent shape after one half of football at Moberly last week. The Indians trailed by just two touchdowns, but a rough third quarter put the Spartans in the driver’s seat the rest of the night and a trio of turnovers in the game did not help Osage’s cause, either. This week provides a great opportunity for the Indians to get back to business and play the style of football that led to a dominant win in the opener against Fulton- an unstoppable offense and fairly sharp defense. If each of the 11 players out on the field at any time can trust each other and do their jobs, this team may jump back in the win column.
2. Let the Blackfoot Lead the Way
The strength of Osage’s offensive line, also known as the “Blackfoot,” should be no secret at this point. After all, both starting tackles (Davis Sallee and Brady Wisecarver) are hard to miss out on the field measuring in at 6-foot-4 with the whole offensive line averaging 263 pounds. This unit pushed Fulton around two weeks ago and is certainly capable of doing so once again. Osage has put up 564 rushing yards as a team in 2020, averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Junior quarterback Brockton McLaughlin leads the way with 315 rushing yards and three scores while senior running back Kenan Webb has also topped the century mark (103 yards, two touchdowns) and senior Jack Creasy has rushed for 83 yards and three touchdowns. Give McLaughlin time and he can sling the pigskin around, too, having completed 22 of his 29 passes for 271 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Junior receiver Keigan Vaughn has been the top receiver (five catches, 87 yards) while sophomore Hunter Graber has six catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns and senior Drew Elley is at five catches for 55 yards. Eldon is currently giving up 30.5 points per game so this side of the ball should be eager to inflict some damage on the scoreboard.
3. Tame the Running Game
For years, Eldon’s offensive strength has been in the running game behind the Mustangs’ Wing-T offense and it is no different in 2020. Currently, Eldon is averaging 233 rushing yards per game and it is accounting for nearly 88 percent of the yards the team has put up in the first two games. Sophomore running back Krystopher Shepard and senior running back Owen Levesque have been the two biggest threats for the Mustangs on the ground, accounting for nearly 300 of the team’s 466 rushing yards and junior running back Killian Wilson can do some damage as well. Stop the running game and Eldon may have to go with a few more pass attempts from a young freshman quarterback in Hunter Hees who is 12-25 for 67 yards to go with a touchdown and interception. Osage sophomore linebacker Eric Hood, who leads the team with 21 tackles so far, may have a busy night on his hands against a team currently averaging 27 points per game.
ELDON KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Build Some Consistency
Eldon’s first two games of 2020 have been lopsided. One went in their favor and the other did not and while opponents usually change each week of the season, that does not mean the Mustangs cannot find some consistency and continue to build and improve each week. Any good team can thrive upon what it does well, but learning from and shoring up the mistakes is where a team can truly grow. It is early in the season, but do that and the team may enjoy more of what happens the rest of the way. It was a rough outing at Owensville last week, but the opportunity to play spoiler on Senior Night against a rival should aid in a short memory.
2. Dominate the Trenches
Eldon coach Chad Hult noted before the season started that the Mustang offense will go where this offensive line, averaging 219 pounds, carries them. Fortunately, the Mustangs brought four returners back among that unit and their names will be called once again on Friday night to continually move the chains, dominate time of possession and find the end zone. Overall, Eldon’s offense has averaged 5.8 yards per carry over the first two games and Shepard has enjoyed the most spoils from that effort with 155 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 15.5 yards per carry himself. Levesque has had a solid start (138 rushing yards, six yards per carry, two touchdowns) and Wilson is at a 74 yards on the ground with a touchdown, averaging 2.8 yards per rush. Osage has had some trouble stopping the run in the first two games, allowing 42.5 points per game overall, so this should be some extra motivation. Should Eldon choose to air the ball out a little more, Baylor Pearson has emerged as an early favorite target for Hess with five catches for 29 yards and Wilson has a short touchdown reception in the early going.
3. Eyes on the Quarterback
McLaughlin has done plenty so far to make the Osage offense march down the field. He has spread the ball around to six different receivers, completing nearly 76 percent of his passes, but it is his legs that make him truly dangerous as the team’s leading rusher, accounting for nearly 56 percent of the team’s 564 rushing yards. If the Mustangs are going to slow this offense down, there must be eyes on McLaughlin at all times keeping him contained inside the pocket. If the linebacking corps and secondary can keep everything in front of them against what has traditionally been a balanced offensive attack and the defensive line can gain some traction against a sturdy offensive line from Osage, McLaughlin may potentially be isolated just enough and Eldon may have a good shot to play spoiler against a team averaging 40.5 points per game.