Rolla and St. James will both be on the road tonight as the Bulldogs take on state-ranked West Plains and the Tigers travel to southeast Missouri where they will face the Perryville Pirates.
Rolla and St. James will both be on the road tonight as the Bulldogs take on state-ranked West Plains and the Tigers travel to southeast Missouri where they will face the Perryville Pirates. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m.
Rolla Bulldogs 1-0 (1-0 OC) at West Plains Zizzers 1-0 (1-0 OC)
The Bulldogs are coming off a 32-24 win over the Glendale Falcons in week one. The Zizzers are the No. 8 ranked team in Class 4 and are also 1-0 on the season after defeating Hillcrest in Springfield 42-14.
For Rolla coach Jon Franks, the key to a successful game is not too complicated.
“Win all three phases of the game and offensive time of possession,” the coach said.
“Preparing for their running back and quarterback is a tough thing to duplicate at practice. Not very many teams have possibly two Ozark Conference offensive players of the year on their team.”
West Plains coach Matthew Perkins is glad to be home for this battle and is looking for his players to maintain focus.
“I’m not sure if it’s an advantage but kids will be really excited,” he said of the home game. “Got to keep them focused on playing four quarters. Game emotions will be high early for both sides. Got to stay the course all night.
“We’ve got to continue to get better at the fundamentals. Big focus on blocking and tackling.”
Both teams are fighting for that top spot in the Ozark Conference. Camdenton, Lebanon, and Parkview are also fighting to keep their chances alive for a championship early in the season.
“If you want to be on top you have to beat people that are at the top,” Franks said.
Both teams went deep into the playoffs last season.
The Zizzers were led last week by Brayden Lidgard who collected 168 yards in the win over the Hornets. Quarterback Connor Rackley was 7-9 passing and had 155 yards in the first half with two touchdowns already.
Perkins said it will take some discipline for his team to top Rolla Friday night.
“We need to take care of the ball and get Rolla off the field on third down. We cannot get impatient with long drives by the Rolla offense,” he said. “We will have to play assignment football. Trust your buddy to do his job and do yours.
“Whoever wins this game has beat a good team.”
The Bulldogs had big games from senior quarterback Jack Houston and fellow senior Colton Franks who all had touchdowns in the big home win last week.
It is just week two, but a win Friday night certainly helps down the road.
“You always got to position yourself for districts. Just grinding out wins is always big for district assignments,” Perkins noted.
Franks and company would not take a win for granted either.
“Any game on the road in the OC is a challenge. West Plains has a great environment and every game matters,” the coach stated.
St James Tigers 0-1 at Perryville Pirates 0-1
The Tigers are coming off a loss to neighboring Salem while Perryville is also looking for its first win after a 14-7 loss to the Desoto Dragons in week one.
St. James is eager to pick up that first win and Coach Josh Rodriguez said eliminating mistakes would certainly help.
“We must eliminate the self-inflicted mistakes. Last week we made too many errors that led to stalled drives, busted plays and blown assignments,” the coach remarked. “We will have to do a better job of doing the little things correctly.
“Every week will probably have the same thing to keep us in the game. Our defense must be sound in alignment and disciplined in doing their jobs,” he continued. “We will have to do a better job of pursuit and getting 11 hats on the ball. We will have to consistently control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball to give ourselves the best chance at success.”
Perryville coach Blane Boss had a few keys in mind for Friday night as well.
“Worry about doing our jobs and trusting our teammates to do their part. Taking care of the little things is a must as well,” he pointed out.
Boss said St. James will give his club a few challenges.
“We have to keep them in front of us and make tackles. They have some good athletes that could hurt us if we don't tackle well or do our jobs,” he said.
The Tigers had a big game from senior Nick Halbrook after he rushed for 124 yards on 18 carries against Salem. He led the team with 200 all-purpose yards on the ground and added five tackles in the matchup.
Coach Rodriguez used this week to improve and here are some things he worked on,
“We have made some personnel adjustments and worked on some of the mistakes we were making last week. At this point and with how inexperienced this group is, we are mainly focusing on doing our jobs correctly and giving max effort,” the coach noted.
Perryville also looked to make a few adjustments as well.
“Mostly limiting the mental mistakes and trying to become better blockers and tacklers. I think we will be relying on every part of the game which includes defense, offense and special teams,” he said. “Any lapses can cost you.”
St James will have to keep up the passing as Halbrook was 5-13 throwing with 110 yards. Senior Rustin Branum also added 12 yards of passing in the game. The team will rely on four receivers in senior Logan Saxbury, sophomore Dakota Kurtti, sophomore Peyton Maylee and sophomore Logan Sparks to give the passing game diverse targets.
Rodriguez was actually optimistic about the long road trip.
“Being on the road, especially as far away as Perryville, can be a good thing. It may be a lot of time on a bus but it also allows for a lot of time to relax and just mentally prepare for the game.,” he pointed out. “There are times where being at home we can get a little too excited for a game and the pregame butterflies get the best of us.”
Meanwhile, Boss is glad to host this one.
“Obviously, it is a huge advantage not having to travel almost three hours. Any time you have to be on a bus with no air conditioning when it's 90 degrees it is no fun,” he said. “We are happy to be at home this year.”