WEEK 7 PREVIEWS: Versailles looking to find its groove against Boonville

MICHAEL LOSCH, Lake Sun Sports Editor

After coronavirus concerns left Versailles without a game for nearly a month, the Tigers finally got to face another team Friday night. 

It just happened to be against a resurgent 5-1 California team that is currently among the top teams in the Tri-County Conference, but it was an opportunity for the Tigers to shake some of the rust off and see where they stand in what was just their third game of the season and conference opener.

The end result was a 43-7 loss to the Pintos in the first game back but now, the time has come to see if Versailles (0-3, 0-1 TCC) can quickly apply the lessons of last week and find some kind of rhythm with another contest lined up for Friday night against Boonville (3-3, 1-3 TCC).

After dropping three straight games to the current top teams in the conference (Southern Boone, Blair Oaks and California), the Pirates bounced back last week with a 55-31 win at Osage.  

The Tigers will be lining up against a team that is currently averaging 274.7 yards and 31.5 points per game. Boonville is bringing a fairly balanced attack to Versailles with an average of 135.3 yards coming from the air and 139.3 yards coming from the ground. 

The Pirates have placed their trust in a young sophomore quarterback in Colby Caton who is 46-85 on the season, passing for 812 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. Junior Jamesian McKee has been Caton’s favorite target in 2020 with 12 receptions for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns and he is still the leading receiver despite playing just four games. Senior Charlie Bronakowski presents another key threat for the Pirates with 10 catches for 211 yards and three touchdowns while junior D.J. Wesolak has totaled 11 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown and junior Dawan Lomax has also eclipsed the century mark with six catches for 136 yards and two scores.  

Boonville’s rushing attack is led by senior Andrew Wiser who is currently at 397 rushing yards for eight touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Caton also has some mobility with 196 rushing yards (2.6 yards per carry) and three touchdowns. They are the only two Pirates currently over the century mark in rushing, but Lomax has galloped for 87 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries, averaging 12.4 yards per attempt, and others like Wesolak (62 rushing yards, 15.5 yards per carry, one touchdown) and freshman Dakota Troost (44 rushing yards, 14.7 yards per carry, three touchdowns) are certainly capable of doing some damage.  

Through three games against teams with a combined record of 10-3 in 2020, the Versailles defense is giving up 401.7 yards per game with an average of 325.7 of those yards coming from the ground attack and 76 of those yards coming from the passing game. The first key for the Tigers on Friday night will simply be stopping Boonville’s running game and if Versailles can do that and force Caton to throw more passes, it may bode well considering the young sophomore has eight interceptions on the season. Easier said than done, though, against a balanced offense.

Versailles’ offense, averaging 136.7 yards and 9.3 points per game after three contests, will be facing a Boonville defense allowing 24.2 points per game. The Pirates do a decent job of disrupting offenses averaging 9.2 tackles for a loss per game and the unit averages three sacks per contest racking up a total of 18 sacks on the year.  

Knowing that fact, the Versailles offensive will have to stay sharp Friday night if the Tigers are going to continually move the chains and eventually find the end zone. Under a brand new offense in 2020, the Tigers place an emphasis on their rushing attack and it has led to 84.3 rushing yards per game while the team has put up 52.3 passing yards per outing.  

Radcliff is currently the team’s leading rusher as the quarterback has totaled 38 carries for 118 yards and a touchdown, averaging 39.3 rushing yards per game. Senior running back Max Coleman has put together 70 rushing yards on 29 carries, averaging 2.4 yards per attempt, and sophomore Tye Edgar has rushed the ball 12 times for 66 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per rush.

Through the air, Radcliff has completed 18 of his 30 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns and both of his touchdown passes have gone to senior wideout Michael Bell who caught one of those touchdowns last week against California. Returning as the team’s top pass catcher, Bell leads the receiving corps with 10 receptions for 98 yards. Coleman has caught a pair of passes for 29 yards, junior Kole Viebrock currently has two catches for 17 yards and fellow junior Kannen Wilson has caught a 10-yard pass. 

Another good test is ahead for Versailles and after the program already missed 30 percent of its guaranteed games in 2020, simply being back on the field and actually having a game for a second straight week may just be what this team needs to get the wheels turning.  

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Versailles.