Learn more about tonight's season openers on the gridiron for Rolla and St. James football
The St. James Tigers and Rolla Bulldogs will open their 2019 campaigns tonight.
The Tigers will host Salem in a battle of Tigers that will have implications for postseason standings. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will host the Glendale Falcons in a game that could affect the outcome of the Ozark Conference.
St. James Tigers vs. Salem Tigers
The battle in St. James will be a fight for higher seeding when the district playoffs roll around.
No need to remind St. James Head Coach Josh Rodriguez.
“This could have a major impact on later seeding as we are in the same district. With the current playoff format every game is important because of the accumulation of points during the season,” the coach noted.
Nor Head Coach Dylan Wyrick of the Salem Tigers.
“St. James is a district opponent of ours. So getting a head-to-head win Friday could potentially help us down the stretch when it comes time for district seeding,” he posited.
St. James was 6-5 last season with a 20-24 loss to Salem in Dent County to open last year. This year, both teams are ready for another fun showdown.
Wyrick has been happy to see the way his team has responded in preseason work.
“They have come a long way from the start of camp,” he said of his club. “They have had to make a lot of adjustments with a new coach, new scheme on both sides of the ball and they are very young across the board. They have adjusted well and embraced every challenge.
“It has been fun to watch them pull together as a team and enjoy playing football together.”
With this being the first game of the season, both teams will have young squads on the field.
Likewise, Rodriquez likes what he has seen from his young group as well.
“This is a mixed group of several experienced seniors and a lot of sophomores getting varsity playing time for the first time,” he noted. “We really like how the majority of the guys we have rotating with the varsity groups gelled and seem to be falling into their roles.”
Both teams are coming off good performances in their preseason jamborees last week. For St. James, it was a good opportunity to solidify some question marks.
“The jamboree helped us determine a couple of position battles and gave us our first live look that is hard to replicate in practice,” he remarked.
Wyrick was glad that his team had an opportunity to look at the opponent that will be lined up across from them Friday night.
“It gave us a good look at their personnel, and it gave our kids a live look at their week one opponent,” he said of St. James. “I think it helped ease a lot of our young guys’ nerves going into the first game.”
It is never easy being fully prepared for the first live battle, but Rodriguez is looking to get his team operating like a finely-tuned machine.
“The first game is always a little difficult to prepare for. We have only been going ‘full go’ for a couple of weeks and it takes a little bit of time to get into our game week routine,” he stated. “Game day preparation is something we are focusing on this week.”
Wyrick had a few ideas about a winning formula for his Salem team.
“They need to be disciplined, give effort, play for each other and make less mistakes than they do,” he pointed out.
The game will be played at the football field behind the high school on Friday night around 7 p.m.
Rolla Bulldogs vs. Glendale Falcons
Rolla Bulldogs will kick off its 2019 season hosting the Bulldogs Community Pride Night at 5:30 p.m. in the parking lot outside of the stadium as Glendale comes to town for an Ozark Conference clash.
The Bulldogs were 7-4 last season while Glendale finished 3-8 on the season.
Rolla head coach Jon Franks is ready to see what his team is made of after all the work that has been put in.
“We had a great summer and preseason. Now the adventure continues,” he said.
“You always want to get a good start in the conference.”
Glendale head coach Mike Mauk will get a chance to see how his young team responds beneath the Friday night lights.
“We have many first year, inexperienced players playing in their first varsity game on both sides of the ball,” he said.
Mauk also added that in order to come out ahead in the game, they would have to not turn the ball over, find a way to slow down the Rolla offense and keep them from controlling the football.
Playing an opponent in a higher class helps Rolla accumulate points in the district standings and a win would be icing on the cake for week one.
Franks said that in order to come out on top of the scoreboard, the Bulldogs would have to manage time of possession and eliminate turnovers. Mauk knows preventing those keys will be a challenge.
“Rolla is a very good football team. They are very physical and very well coached,” the Glendale coach noted. “They have the potential to be one of the better teams we play all year long.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.