Each week the O-Zone staff will rank the top 10 area football teams based on dominance by class, aka how they stack up pound-for-pound with the other schools in their respective class.
(Class, record, previous ranking in parenthesis)
1. Lamar (C2, 7-0, 1) – There’s very little debate as to how good the Tigers are. They’ve proved that time and time again, including their 50-13 turbo clock win at Valle Catholic two Saturdays ago, snapping the Warriors’ nation-best 11-man winning streak. Coach Bailey and the Tigers go about their business and are as humble as you can be for a five-time defending state champ. While they’re always labeled as a great team, let it be known, senior RB/DB Luke Hardman is as legit as they come. Just take a look at his power, speed and shiftiness in Friday’s 49-14 win at Mt Vernon; http://www.hudl.com/v/pQdFA.
2. MV-BT/Liberty (C2, 8-0, 2) – Credit Salem for slowing the Eagles’ air attack early, but it turned out to be futile effort as Liberty rolled to 8-0, 42-7. Josh Pruett’s 128 yards and two touchdowns were modest for his standards, but running back Marcos Rodriguez more than made up for that with his 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Only a trip to 1-7 Houston stands in the way of an undefeated regular season, SCA title and district top seed.
3. Glendale (C5, 8-0, 4) – I still can’t say enough about how dominant the Falcons have been this season. Friday’s 58-7 drubbing of Waynesville locked up at least a share of the Ozark Conference title. They’ll go for the outright championship this week hosting 6-2 Camdenton; no easy task. The offense is as good as ever, averaging 52 points per game, but did you realize they’re allowing just 21 points per game, which is not only far less than half of what they allowed last season, but is second best in the OC behind only Kickapoo. Below is a graphic from MaxPreps that illustrates just how dominant they’ve been compared to the rest of the nation. Wow!!!
4. Monett (C3, 7-1, 3) – Better late than never. The Cubs have needed 4th quarter rallies a few times this season, most recently in a 35-14 home win over Seneca last week. Despite that, the talented, balanced and well coached Cubs are right where they wanted to be heading into week 9. They won’t catch Reeds Spring for the district top seed, but Friday’s Senior Night against East Newton (won 3 of 4) remains important as they need that victory to assure the number two seed, meaning they would likely host Cassville in the district semifinals.
5. Lincoln (C1, 8-0, 5) – So check this out; Lincoln is scoring more points per game than Glendale (53.75) and allowing less points than Lamar (6.38). By virtue of those stats you might think they’re the hands down best team in the area. But at closer look, the Cardinals have the worst strength of schedule in the entire area. They’re opponents are a combined 11-50, and they’ve yet to face a team with even a .500 record. That all changes this week as they go up the road to visit Class 2 Cole Camp (7-1). We should learn an awful lot about just how good LHS is in the KY3 Game of the Week.
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6. Carthage (C5, 7-1, 9) – I’m squarely on the blue Tigers’ bandwagon! The whacky COC Large race has been a roller-coaster to say the least, but in the end, it APPEARS Carthage will come out on top; that is if they can win at 5-3 Neosho this week. Despite that, they’ll easily secure the Class 5 District 5 top seed, which includes Neosho and Nixa. Keith Guest and Trey Collins are THE BEST 1-2 punch in the COC Large. As an example of their abilities, just look at their opening drive at Republic last week where the Tigers found themselves with a 4th-and-20 situation. Coach Guidie said go, and Guest promptly found Collins for a 20 yard touchdown strike. Nuff said.
7. Mtn Grove (C2, 7-1, 6) – Call them hot, call them motivated or just call them mad, but whatever the case, the Panthers have been taking it out on people the last couple weeks after the Liberty loss. MG has outscored its last two opponents (Salem and Houston) 104-0. They won’t win the SCA or get a district top seed, but I wouldn’t want to be Thayer this week, ‘cause the Panthers are coming to town.
8. Kickapoo (C6, 7-1, 7) – Senior stud running back Maverick McGee (823 yards, 16 TD) is likely done for the season with a broken foot. That’s a major blow to the Chiefs, but if last week is any indication, don’t count them out just yet. Fellow senior Devin Kruse has stepped in nicely over the last couple games and QB Chris Lawson has taken his game to an even higher level. The Chiefs will beat Waynesville on Senior Night Friday. They won’t get a share of the OC title, but that win will be enough to give them the district top seed, and considering the rest of the district resides in Kansas City that is HUGE to host throughout.
9. Fair Grove (C2, 8-0, 8) – You could make a strong argument that the Eagles didn’t have a signature win through the first seven games, but that all changed Friday night. They not only beat Ash Grove (7-2), but they dominated the Pirates 29-0. Jayden Kensinger and Brayden Lumley teamed up at QB, each connecting with Steven Huskey for long touchdowns. The Eagles appear to be hitting on all cylinders right now. They’re Mid-Lakes Conference champs for the first time in five years and the district two-seed behind only top ranked Lamar.
10. Greenfield (8M, 8-0, NR) – We’ve never had an 8-man team in the Power Rankings, but hey, why not? The undefeated Wildcats more than deserve the recognition. Just two years removed from nearly shutting the program down because of low numbers, Coach Lowry’s crew has emerged as one of the best teams in the state at their level. Jerrett Esposito is one of the area’s best two-way players regardless of class. The rest of the roster is loaded with playmakers, including an incredible six players who have thrown for at least one touchdown. The Wildcats host North Shelby this week. From there, they’ll have a first round district bye and need just two wins to reach the 8-man Final Four. Who knows, maybe Greenfield brings home a state championship?!
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: Carl Junction (C4, 6-2), Webb City (C4, 5-3), Cassville (C3, 6-2), Reeds Spring (C3, 7-1), Skyline (C1, 5-3), Lockwood (C1, 7-1), Ozark (C5, 6-2), Camdenton (C5, 6-2), Thayer (C1, 5-3)