By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportZone.com)
The Brayden Lidgard-led rushing attack seems unstoppable. Connor Rackley is healthy and throwing back-breaking touchdown passes.
West Plains scores long touchdowns on trick plays it practices once a week. The head coach had to dig deep for an area that needs improvement: two-point conversions.
Life is good in Zizzerland, but bigger goals are still ahead.
West Plains continued its Ozark Conference dominance on Friday night with a 49-14 whipping of Parkview at JFK Stadium.
The Zizzers (6-0 overall) are averaging 45 points per game. They’ve allowed 34 points all season.
“(Staying focused) starts Monday during walk-throughs for the coming game that Friday,” Rackley said. “Coach is on us about getting focused and locked in. We try to carry that into each rep, all week.”
Lidgard played just over a half of football but finished with his usual gaudy numbers. He rushed 18 times for 192 yards, caught two passes for 90 yards and finished with four touchdowns.
“He’s got a knack for making people miss,” said West Plains coach Steve Ary. “If it’s you and him, it’s usually going to result in him. He’s that good and has that stuff you can’t coach.”
Lidgard played a part in the play of the game.
With under a minute left in the first half, West Plains called a hook-and-ladder play to Lidgard. The junior running back caught the lateral and was off to the races.
The 73-yard touchdown gave the Zizzers a 42-8 halftime lead.
“We don’t practice it very much, maybe one time a week,” Ary said. “Then, we break it out. We needed a big play right there and that was it.”
The Zizzers also landed a key blow early when Rackley found Allen Marcak for a 19-yard touchdown on 4th and goal.
“I saw a soft (coverage) corner and a guy pressed over Allen. Once (Marcak) beat him, I knew (Marcak) had him so I just threw it out there and he made a good play,” Rackley said.
The score put the Zizzers up 22-8 early in the second quarter. Three more West Plains touchdowns followed before halftime.
“You never know mentally how that’s going to affect the kids,” said Vikings coach Ben Dougherty. “We had them in 4th and 19. We have to stop them. If you want to be a great defense, you have to stop somebody there.”
In his fourth game back since returning from injury, Rackley finished 6-for-9 for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’ll give West Plains credit: Their quarterback is a much better thrower, based on tonight, than what we had seen on film so far,” Dougherty said. “He’s a great player. They have a lot of great players on that team.”
West Plains’ Dalton Lucas returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. The Vikings countered with a 15-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard touchdown run from Blake Delacruz.
“We came out a little sloppy on defense,” Ary said. “We played a little (too) aggressive, a little upfield and one of their best players countered and we didn’t defend it well. After a while, we settled in.”
Quarterback Trevor Boice injured his throwing arm on Parkview’s first possession and missed the Vikings’ next two offensive series.
West Plains turned on the turbo clock by scoring on its first drive of the second half – a 20-yard touchdown run by Lidgard. The Zizzers emptied their bench from there.
“My job’s pretty easy,” Rackley said. “Brayden runs, the o-line guys block and I throw it to other guys and they catch it. All I have to do is put it in the vicinity and they make the plays for me.”
Parkview (3-3 overall) plays at Hillcrest next week. West Plains hosts Waynesville.
West Plains 49, Parkview 14
West Plains 16 26 7 0 — 49
Parkview 8 0 0 6 — 14
West Plains – Lucas 95 return (Marcak catch from Rackley)
Parkview – Delacruz 31 run (Huddleston run)
West Plains – Lidgard 48 run (Lidgard run)
West Plains – Marcak 19 catch from Rackley (pass failed)
West Plains – Marcak 40 catch from Rackley (Lidgard run)
West Plains – Lidgard 10 run (run failed)
West Plains – Lidgard 73 catch from Rackley (run failed)
West Plains – Lidgard 20 run (Cressman kick)
Parkview – Newburn 26 catch from Boice (pass failed)
Unofficial stat leaders
Passing: Rackley 6-for-9 for 128 yards and three touchdowns
Rushing: Lidgard 18 carries for 192 yards and three touchdowns
Receiving: Lidgard two catches for 90 yards and one touchdown; Marcak two catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns; Warren one catch for 18 yards
Passing: Boice 9-for-17 for 93 yards and one touchdown
Rushing: Delacruz 15 carries for 92 yards and one touchdown; Huddleston six carries for 44 yards
Receiving: Newburn four catches for 41 yards and one touchdown; Huddleston three catches for 40 yards