WEEK 7 PREVIEWS: Osage looking to stop three-game skid with newly scheduled opponent
The Tri-County County Conference has been a grind for School of the Osage.
After winning the conference opener against Eldon, the Indians are currently on a three-game losing streak after facing California, Hallsville and Boonville who are a combined 12-6 on the season and the team has not felt the joy of victory since that game against the rival Mustangs on September 11.
Osage was scheduled to face another tough conference opponent in Southern Boone (4-1) Friday night, but the Eagles have been dealing with some coronavirus concerns with as many as 38 players quarantined due to contact tracing and did not play their scheduled game at Hallsville last week. Seeking to return to action on Saturday, October 10, Southern Boone scheduled a trip to Tonganoxie in Kansas instead and will play on Saturday afternoon.
With Southern Boone off the schedule, that set up a new opponent for Osage (2-4, 1-3 TCC) who will take a break from the conference grind after falling to Boonville 55-31 last week to host Christian (2-4) out of O’Fallon, Mo. The Eagles were set to visit Lutheran St. Charles Friday night, but will be making a trip to the Lake instead with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
Dakota Conway’s Eagles are coming off a 49-28 win over Lutheran South and the team is currently averaging 24.5 points per contest and allowing 33.7, giving up no less than 26 points in any game this season.
Christian has been fairly balanced in its offensive attack this season, able to move the chains on the ground or through the air.
Senior quarterback Kaden McMullen has completed 80 of his 129 passes for 975 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions and he has spread the ball fairly well to an experienced group of four fellow senior receivers. Kalin Black leads the unit with 21 receptions for 383 yards and five touchdowns while Sharrod Alexander has hauled in 22 receptions for 257 yards and three scores, Adrian Taylor Jr. is at 11 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown and Matthew Omoresemi has 13 receptions for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns. A pair of sophomores in August Billings (five receptions, 77 yards) and Josh Bartig (three receptions, 74 yards) also provide a little depth.
Alexander is also currently the team’s leading rusher with 252 rushing yards (6.5 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. McMullen has dashed for 215 yards (5.2 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, Taylor Jr. has rushed for 206 yards (6.1 yards per carry), junior Jacob Herber has added 173 yards and a touchdown (5.4 yards per carry) and Billings has galloped for 107 yards and a touchdown (17.8 yards per carry). Senior Colby Bolden is also nearly over the century mark with 88 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.4 yards per rush.
So, it seems that Christian has the depth to stay fresh and will look to hurt its opponent in a multitude of ways. Osage, currently allowing 47.8 points per game, has had a few tough weeks giving up no less than 43 points during the three-game skid so the unit will need to find an answer this week.
“They have great athletes and are fast on the edge,” Osage coach Devin Johnson said. “We will have to contain well and finish tackles.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Christian has forced nine total turnovers, including six interceptions, and Bolden leads the way with three of them so it may be wise to keep the ball away from his side of the field if possible. Overall, the defensive unit is averaging just 5.3 tackles for a loss per game so the Indians may be able to find success moving the chains once again. Osage is currently putting up 456.2 yards and 36 points per contest.
“Offensively, we will have to take care of the ball and put up some points,” Johnson stated after some turnovers hurt the team last week. “I think special teams will play a big part of the game Friday night.”
Osage junior quarterback Brockton McLaughlin has surpassed 1,000 passing yards on the season as he is currently 74-106 for 1,017 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions. Sophomore Hunter Graber remains the top receiving threat with 26 catches for 386 yards and four touchdowns while senior Drew Elley is at 18 catches for 262 yards and two scores, junior Keigan Vaughn has 13 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns and senior Kenan Webb can be a threat with nine receptions for 91 yards.
McLaughlin also continues to be the leading rusher for the Indians with 67 carries for 705 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 10.5 yards per rush. Webb has run the ball 53 times for 295 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, sophomore Eric Hood has 31 rushes for 291 yards (9.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns and senior Jack Creasy has put together 34 carries for 283 yards (8.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns of his own as the fourth Indian over the century mark.
Each week presents a new opportunity and with a new team in town with an identical record outside the conference slate, time will soon tell if Osage has enough figured out to get back in the win column.
It is not clear if these two teams have ever met in their history, but Osage and Christian have not faced each other in at least the past 10 years, according to MSHSAA records.
It seems Osage has found a new weapon to add to a solid offensive arsenal. Hood, who has been a leader on the defensive side of the ball, came onto the offensive scene on September 25 leading the team with 76 rushing yards and a score against Hallsville and he just put up 215 yards and a score last week against Boonville. Good things seem to happen with the ball in his hands.
Osage will have its hands full, accounting for a fairly balanced offensive attack with a host of players who can do some damage in the passing or rushing game. McMullen will certainly need to be contained at quarterback and Alexander creates some concern with his dual-threat ability.