A pair of Ozark Conference squads desperately seeking their first victory collide tonight, when the Rolla High School football team travels to Springfield to take on the Parkview Vikings.
Kickoff at Parkview's JFK Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Rolla and Parkview are 0-2 both overall and in the OC. RHS has lost to a pair of the league heavyweights - Lebanon 27-7 and Springfield Kickapoo 49-14 - while the Vikings dropped a 39-25 decision to Kickapoo and last week was upset by Joplin 38-21.
So although it's not a must-win...it would be a very important one for both squads.
"Our kids' spirits are really high," said Rolla head coach Willie Howard. "They understand the first two games were against teams expected to battle for the conference. But they also understand we have to cut down our turnovers and mental mistakes."
"One of us is going to get that first win," said Parkview head coach Anthony Hays. "I think Rolla is good; I thought they were good last year. That's the thing about our conference, from top to bottom there is not a huge difference. Last year we're 8-3 and contended for the conference (title). Rolla was next-to-last and had us beat late, when the momentum swung in the fourth quarter."
Averaging 23 points per game, the Vikings have proven they can move the ball out of their spread offense.
"They're a very athletic group," Howard said of the Vikings. "We saw that this summer in 7-on-7. They have a lot of athletes in the skill positions and their offensive line is pretty good size, too."
Parkview senior quarterback Anthony Gilliland (6-6, 210), a converted receiver, has hit on 26-of-39 passes for 380 yards, no interceptions and four touchdowns so far this season.
Junior wideout Connor Ratcliff has 15 receptions for 167 yards while senior Maurice Downey has caught six passes for 121 yards and two TDs. In all seven Viking players have receptions.
However, the Vikings haven't established much on the ground, having rushed 50 times for a net 117 yards. Sophomore Nicolas Cole is the team's leading rusher with 37 yards - on just one attempt.
The Vikings have yet to lose a turnover.
"Ratcliff is a real good athlete; they try to get him the ball in space as much as they can," Howard said. "And (junior Anthony) McCrimmons is a shifty little running back. And their quarterback throws a nice ball.
"Defensively they run a 4-4 similar to what Kickapoo ran. They have lots of movement from the front line and lots of blitzes and pressure from the linebackers."
Rolla's offense produced more balanced against Kickapoo but the Bulldogs were again burned by turnovers, committing four.
Page 2 of 2 - Junior running back Andy Satulla has 219 rushing yards on 44 carries to pace the RHS ground game while catching seven passes for 77 yards. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Morris has hit on 15-of-29 passes for 145 yards, one interception and two TDs.
Senior defensive back Ben Maples leads RHS in tackles with 19 total - eight solo - while senior back Joe Drallmeier has nine solos and six assists and junior back Holden Pierce has six solos and four assists. Drallmeier has two interceptions and a blocked kick while senior lineman Kaan Kutman has two QB sacks.
"They're a quality football team," Hays said of Rolla. "I have been really impressed with their interior defensive line. I think that will be a tough matchup."
RHS will be without starting junior defensive back Collin Nash, who has an ankle injury.