By Chris Parker
Before I go any further, THESE ARE NOT A HEAD-TO-HEAD RANKING, BUT A RANKING OF DOMINANCE BY CLASS. I am not saying I think the Class 1 schools on this list could beat all the Class 4-6 teams ranked below them or not ranked.
1. Carthage (C5 – 4-0)
Carthage returned from a one week COVID quarantine and picked up 33-10 win over Branson. Patrick Carlton rushed for three touchdowns. Luke Gall added two more touchdowns on 25 carries on his way to a 125-yard night. The Tigers were punishing on the ground with 305 total yards rushing. They were also 10-for-13 on third down. Carthage travels to face Willard this week.
2. Webb City (C5 – 4-1)
Webb City picked up a hard-fought 28-14 win over Carl Junction on Friday. Carl Junction actually had more first downs (23 to 19) and a longer time of possession (25:35 to 22:25) than Webb City, but the Cardinals were able to get the win. Devrin Weathers continued to roll with 19 carries for 132 yards. Junior Cade Wilson did the scoring damage for Webb City with three touchdowns and 80 yards on 13 carries. Webb City travels to Branson this week before a home date with Nixa.
3. West Plains (C4 – 5-0)
West Plains is the final remaining unbeaten team in the Ozark Conference standings after shutting out Kickapoo 28-0 on the road Friday. The Zizzers were dominant on the ground offensively with Titus Seley carrying the ball 26 times for 194 yards and two touchdowns. As a team, the Zizzers had 373 total rushing yards. West Plains will return home to face Lebanon this week.
4. Nixa (C6 – 5-0)
Nixa continued to roll with a 51-0 win over Neosho on Friday. The Eagles have outscored their opponents 128-13 in the past three weeks. The schedule gets tougher starting this week with a trip to face rival Ozark (4-1) on the docket. The combined record of Nixa’s first five opponents this season is 7-18 with no team sporting a record at .500 or above. Going forward, Nixa has a brutal four week stretch that features Ozark (4-1), Webb City (4-1 – defending Class 4 state champion), Carl Junction (1-4) and Carthage (4-0 – defending Class 5 state champion). That is combined current record of 13-6.
5. Lamar (C2 – 4-1)
Lamar made a statement with a 40-20 road win over Class 3 state ranked Cassville on Friday. The Tigers racked up 262 yards rushing along with 65 yards passing in the win. It also helped keep Lamar in the hunt for the Big 8 West title, as the Tigers would’ve fallen two games back in the conference standings with a loss. Lamar steps outside of the Big 8 West for another tough road trip to face another state ranked Class 3 team in Mt. Vernon.
6. Thayer (C1 – 3-1)
Thayer was off last week due to Houston canceling the game due to COVID-19. The Bobcats play a key game this week against fellow Class 1 school Cabool. Cabool is 4-1 with its only loss coming to Class 1 Windsor. Friday’s game will be a key contest in the SCA title chase.
7. Bolivar (C4 – 4-1)
Bolivar took down Camdenton 38-26 on Friday. The Liberators did what they do best and controlled the ball on the ground. So far this season, Bolivar has rushed for 1,870 yards on 275 carries as a team. The Liberators have completed just nine total passes for 137 yards. Darrin Fugitt has led the rushing attack with 122 carries for 1,021 yards and five touchdowns. Fugitt currently leads the area in rushing. Bo Banner has added 438 yards on 91 attempts. Defensively, Andrew Bunn has led the way with 49 tackles including eight tackles for a loss. Bolivar welcomes in Waynesville this week.
8. Mt. Vernon (C3 – 4-1)
Mt. Vernon took a tough loss, their first in 19 regular season games, coming up on the short end of a 29-23 decision against Rogersville. The Mountaineers had a 23-7 lead with 8:23 remaining. They will have to regroup quickly with Class 2 No. 2 Lamar coming to town this week.
9. Marionville (C1 – 5-0)
Let me introduce you to the No. 1 scoring offense in southwest Missouri. The Comets are 5-0 this year and have scored 268 total points while yielding just 75. Skyline has scored 218 to rank second in points scored in the area. The Comets have a fairly balanced attack led by a junior and sophomore. Sophomore quarterback Wil Carlton has thrown for 836 yards and nine touchdowns. As a team, Marionville has rushed for 1,061 yards and 24 touchdowns. Junior Dakota Wilson has 81 of those carries for 562 yards and 13 touchdowns. Defensively, Carlton has pulled down two interceptions to lead the team. Senior Kyle Brattin, who is the team’s leading receiver, is also the team’s leading tackler with 49. Up this week is a matchup with a one-loss Pierce City team that has dominated the Southwest Conference since its return in 2018. The Comets will look to snap a four-game losing streak against Pierce City.
10. Ozark (C5 – 4-1)
Ozark held off Republic for a 35-28 win. The Tigers showed off an opportunistic passing attack in the win. Cannon Cox accounted for three touchdowns with two passing and one rushing. He threw for 126 total yards. Owen Brockman caught both touchdowns for 76 of those yards on his only two receptions. Ozark got its other two touchdowns off pitches to Ethan Pritchard (56 yards) and Jake Beets (26 yards). The Tigers are still a run-first team as evidenced by their 305 rushing yards, but their 126 passing yards in Week 5 show they can get it done through the air if the opposing team tries to sell out to stop the run. It was the first time this year Ozark threw for more than 85 yards in a game. Through five games, Ozark has 1,611 yards on the ground against just 314 yards through the air. Cox has completed just 11 passes all year, but they are generally home runs when he does. Six of those nine completions have gone for touchdowns and are averaging 27.8 yards per completions. Cox, Pritchard and Tylr Bolin have all rushed for between 424 and 472 yards this year. Beets has 218 yards rushing. Defensively, Ozark has picked off six passes and recovered nine fumbles. Up this week is a home game with Class 6 No. 2 Nixa in the Backyard Brawl.
OTHERS TO WATCH (alphabetical): Aurora (C3 – 3-2), Buffalo (C3 – 4-1), Cabool (C1 – 4-1), Cassville (C3 – 3-2), Lockwood (C1 – 3-1), McDonald County (C4 – 4-1), Skyline (C1 – 4-1)
Five Other Things
McDonald County in Big 8 West driver’s seat
McDonald County is the surprise of the Big 8, as the Mustangs sit atop the Big 8 West standings at 2-0 and already hold a win over Lamar. The Mustangs are 4-1 overall. Since 2010, McDonald County’s most wins in a season is five from back in 2017. It is the only time they have won more than three games in a season since 2010. How are they getting it done? A balanced and potent offense. The 165 points McDonald County has scored is the No. 2 mark among the 14 Big 8 teams. Cole Martin has completed 65.6% of his passes for 795 yards and 12 touchdowns. Bailey Lewis is the star on the ground with 104 carries for 763 yards and nine touchdowns so far. In sum, McDonald County has thrown for 795 yards and 12 touchdowns while rushing for 930 yards and 12 touchdowns. Even the receiving game is balanced with Trent Alik hauling in 18 receptions for 295 yards and five touchdowns, and Levi Malone catching 11 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, the Mustangs are opportunistic with 10 turnovers and 10 sacks in five games. There is still a lot to be decided in the Big 8 West race with four teams sitting at one conference loss, but all McDonald County has to do is keep winning and they will be in line for a conference title.
Clever shows marked improvement
I was at the first quarter of Clever’s game with Pierce City. The growth the Blue Jays have shown in just five weeks is impressive. They returned to the varsity football field in Week 1 and fell to Willow Springs 42-0. Then they had to take a two-week break due to COVID. Upon their return in Week 4, Clever scored its first touchdown but still lost 34-7. In Week 5, Clever was supposed to play Greenfield, but had to instead play Pierce City, a team that is 35-4 overall in the past four years including a 31-1 regular season mark in that time. Clever battled Pierce City throughout before eventually falling 34-31. Jake Twigg had 20 carries for 114 yards along with three catches for 48 yards. Twigg also had an interception on defense. Quarterback Bryce Gelle threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Drew Hanafin and David Maddox were his top targets with eight catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Aurora beats Buffalo in best game of Week 5
My second game of the night was a stop in Aurora for Buffalo at Aurora. It was another game that originally was not scheduled, but came about because of COVID. The first half was dominated by Aurora, as the Houn’ Dawgs took a 30-7 lead at half. The second half was dominated by Buffalo, and specifically, quarterback Jamen Smith. The Bison roared back, but came up just short in a 36-35 loss. The win helped Aurora snap a two-game losing streak. The Houn’ Dawgs didn’t complete a single pass, but carried the ball 68 times for 356 yards as a team. Brody Sims (19 carries for 111 yards) and Aaron Fisher (20 carries for 101 yards) led the attack for Aurora. Their punishing, physical style just overwhelmed Buffalo in the first half. Smith threw for 119 yards and two touchdowns while turning nine carries into 117 yards and three touchdowns to spearhead the comeback effort. On the season, Smith has thrown for 996 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 589 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has a real shot at a 3,000-yard, 50-touchdown season.
Glendale’s future is bright
Glendale is off to a 2-3 start including a key win over Class 4 state-ranked Bolivar. No matter how the second half of the schedule shakes out in 2020, the future is very bright on the south side of Springfield. Sophomore Wyatt Andrews has settled in at quarterback with 105 completions for 1,098 yards and nine touchdowns through five games. His top two receivers are juniors Derek Horton (50 receptions for 543 yards and four touchdowns) and Chris Floyd Jr. (29 catches for 402 yards and three touchdowns). Defensively, junior Cooper Roy has been a menace to opposing quarterbacks with 15 total sacks. He is second on the team in tackles with 50. Freshman Kellon Lindstrom is No. 3 in tackles with 41. Junior Connor McTague leads the team in takeaways defensively with three (two interceptions and a fumble recovery). In fact, of the seven players who have a takeaway defensively, four are juniors and one is a freshman.
Kanengieter first to 1k?
Marshfield’s Daylon Kanengieter will look to become the first area running back to reach 1,000 yards for the season this week, according to MaxPreps. He is No. 2 in the state overall at 969 rushing yards for 12 touchdowns. His lowest output so far this year is 116 yards on 15 carries in the opening week against Seneca. He is averaging 11.1 yards per carry overall.
NOTE: After the publication of this article, it was brought to my attention that Bolivar’s Darrin Fugitt has already rushed for more than 1,000 yards.