O-Zone Opinion


O-Zone Kickoff Week: Big 8 Football Preview

The football season gets going on Friday. Here is everything you need to know about the Big 8 this season.

Big 8 Conference

The Big 8 continues to be the epitome of football in Southwest Missouri. A few years ago it was Cassville dominating and making runs to the Edward Jones Dome, they’ve now passed that torch onto Lamar who will be going for a three-peat in 2013. In fact, the last time at least one Big 8 team didn’t advance to the Final Four was 2006-2007. In fact, Lamar has been to four consecutive Final Fours, and in that time the Tigers have a conference record of just 16-12. This will be the last year of the Big 8 as we know it. Next year McDonald County will join the leg as full athletic and academic members.


Favorite: Lamar – It is hard to pick against Cassville, especially since they haven’t dropped a league game since 2008, but all good things must come to an end. The Wildcats reign of four straight Big 8 titles should end this year. Lamar returns the best line in the area, maybe in all of Class 2, headlined by the Bailey twins (Sam & Ben) as well as JT Tucker and Brandon Eaves. The Tigers also bring back last year’s starting backfield with quarterback Levi Petersen, running back Jared Beshore and athlete Tripp Tucker. With all that talent and experience returning, look for Lamar to make it back to the ‘The Dome’ come November.

Darkhorse: Carl Junction – Doug Buckmaster has a made career out of turning around high school football programs. His previous stops at Carthage and Joplin both resulted in some of the best years those programs have ever experienced. He brings an offensive flare and exciting football to Carl Junction, a program that isn’t hurting for athletes. With seniors Dustin Satterlee and Matt Magee the Bulldogs have two extremely talented skill players that know how to find their way to the end zone. Defensively Conner Bremmerkamp  is one of the Big 8’s best run stoppers and few get to the quarterback better than Chris Whelan. Because of Carl Junction’s enrollment numbers they should have no problem competing with Buckmaster at the helm.


Offensive MVP: Levi Petersen, Lamar – Petersen gets knocked for being a running quarterback. But, when you run for 2,139 yards and 34 touchdowns do you really need to throw the football? Much like older brother Micah, Levi (6-foot-1, 210lbs) has the size and arm strength to play at the next level. In 2013 with him bringing back so much up front and nearly every skill player from last year it is hard to think that Petersen won’t have an even bigger season. He will likely see nine or even 10 in the box, which will give him a chance to show off that arm.

Defensive MVP: Hayden Prater, Cassville – It is hard to pick against the defensive leader on a team that allowed one first quarter touchdown all season. In 2012, he racked up 106 tackles, eight of which were for loss. Prater has a motor that doesn’t stop and a nose for the football. You can try to run it away from him, but he has the speed to chase the play down. He also has a mean streak. When he makes a tackle, the whole stadium can hear it. The Wildcats will again need him to lead in 2013 as they look to continue their Big 8 dominance.


Mr. Underrated: Braxton Graham, Seneca – Graham is easily the most exciting player in the Big 8 this year. His speed (runs a legit 4.5) and his elusiveness make him a nightmare in the open field. His 2,579 all-purpose yards led the conference last season; he also found the end zone 15 times. With quarterback Peyton Rawlings back for his senior year and the loss Marty Mailes and Jalen Skaggs, Graham should expect increased touches. Last year he averaged 13.5 yards per touch. Defensively he recorded 48 tackles to go along with four interceptions. The 5-foot-6 jitterbug is the type of player that is always one play away from breaking one long and blowing a game wide open.

Player to Watch: Matt Magee, Wide Receiver – Carl Junction: Magee is an extremely talented receiver in any offense. But, as Doug Buckmaster takes over the helm at Carl Junction, his exotic offense will be just what the doctor ordered for Magee to have a big season. He has legitimate track speed and wreaks havoc in the open field. In 2012 Magee racked up 552 yards on 44 catches to go with seven touchdowns. Look for those numbers to increase in his senior campaign for the Bulldogs.

Game of the Year: Cassville vs. Lamar – I would say it’s a rivalry, but the way that Cassville has been handing out Ls to the Tigers it wouldn’t be fair to them. Lamar may be back-to-back state champs, with a third on the way, but Cassville has had their number. In fact, if you can tell me the last time Lamar beat Cassville please shoot me an e-mail. The Tigers have dropped every game dating back to 2004 in blowout fashion. In 2012, Cassville blanked Lamar 31-0. Scott Bailey and company may be more geared up for this game than any other they play all season.

Fan poll results - The fans think this is the year Lamar gets to the top of the Big 8 as the Tigers garnered 144 out of a possible 266 first place votes.



Big 8
Place School Total Points
1 Lamar 1720
2 Cassville 1637
3 Seneca 1046
4 Monett 947
5 Carl Junction 849
6 Mt. Vernon 785
7 Aurora 704
8 East Newton 331

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Tags :  
Topics : Carl JunctionCassvilleFootballLamar
People : Brandon EavesBraxton GrahamChris WhelanDoug BuckmasterDustin SatterleeJalen SkaggsJared BeshoreLevi PetersenMarty MailesMatt MageePeyton RawlingsScott BaileyTripp Tucker

08/29/2013 4:05PM
O-Zone Kickoff Week: Big 8 Football Preview
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08/29/2013 6:27PM
Pat Bart
I am certain the last time Lamar defeated Cassville was in 2003. That jjs the last time Lamar was tri Conference Big 8 Champion. Lamar finished the 8-3 that year.
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