Bulldogs and Tigers must fight former state champions to get past districts

The Missouri State High School Activities Association has released the districts for several sports including football and soccer. There are several changes and many familiar opponents heading into this year for both teams.

In football, Classes 3 and 4 will feature eight teams in a single elimination tournament this year and none of the teams will receive a bye. In most cases, the higher-seeded team will host the game at its home field.

FOOTBALL

Rolla Bulldogs (Class 4 District 5)

The district of the Rolla Bulldogs will feature several op- ponents the team will have previously played earlier in the year.

Rolla will face the Camdenton Lakers and Lebanon Yellowjackets from the Ozark Conference in the regular season. The district will also include teams from the east towards the Franklin County area where the Bulldogs may face the Pacific Indians, Union Wildcats or Washington Bluejays. The other two teams that will be in the district are the Jefferson City Helias Crusaders and Marshfield Bluejays.

The winner of that district will face another district champion from a field that includes state powerhouse Webb City, Bolivar, Carl Junction, Hillcrest, McDonald County, Neosho, West Plains and Willard. Nearly all of those schools are from southwest Missouri.

“We are excited about our district alignment,” Rolla football coach Jon Franks said. “It will definitely have us ready for the state quarterfinals if we happen to push through districts. Great opportunities.”

St. James Tigers (Class 3 District 5)

The Tigers players will have more of a central and southwest Missouri direction after the regular season.

They could have a rematch against the Salem Tigers, whom is their first opponent of the season this Friday night. The other teams in the district are the defending Class 2 state champion Blair Oaks Falcons from the Jefferson City area, Buffalo, Eldon, Osage, Logan-Rogersville and Springfield Catholic.

“It is identical to last year’s district with the exception that Owensville was moved out and Blair Oaks, the defending Class 2 champion, was added,” St. James coach Josh Rodriguez noted. “We just have to focus on one game at a time and not look at something that far in the future.”

Whoever emerges from the district will face the winner of District 6 from southwest Missouri. Those teams are Aurora, Cassville, Hollister, Monett, Mt. Vernon, Nevada, Reed Springs and Seneca.

SOCCER

Rolla Bulldogs (Class 3 District 8)

Rolla will face Pacific, Union or Washington. The host school is yet to be determined, but one school will host all three games. The top seed will take on the No. 4 seed while No. 2 and No. 3 clash.

The winner of the district will take on the winner of District 7 in the state playoffs. Those teams are Hannibal, Liberty from Wentzville, St. Dominic from O’Fallon or Warrenton.

The Bulldogs have a chance of facing several of the schools in the Pacific Tournament.

“It a very difficult draw for us,” Rolla coach Mike Howard pointed out. “Washington, who is in our district, is two years removed from playing in the state championship game and then our region has produced every state champion since soccer went to four classes. I couldn’t think of a more difficult spot to have been placed.

“But it is what it is, our group will show up and represent Rolla well one way or another.”