By Jordan Burton (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
What were some of the biggest stories from Week 2 of the football season? Jordan Burton takes a look back at last night’s action with the things that stood out the most to him.
Joplin vs. Nixa lives up to the hype
Last week we said that the COC Championship could be decided in Joplin with the Eagles hosting Nixa and the game lived up to every bit of the hype. The biggest takeaway is that both teams should walk away feeling really good. Sure, Joplin’s 28-25 win put them firmly in the driver’s seat for the conference title. To start the season with wins over Webb City on the road and Nixa is the most impressive start to the season for any team in Missouri. Always Wright (195 passing yards, 52 rushing yards) continues to prove why he’s a D1 prospect in both football and basketball, while running backs Quin Renfro (23-84) and Drew VanGilder (20-74) have emerged as a more than formidable backfield for a program that has been churning them out lately. Joplin again rallied from a double-digit deficit… Nixa has nothing to feel bad about. The loss is tough, but to hang like that on the road is impressive, especially when factoring in that stud running back Ramone Green missed much of the game. Nixa still managed to be effective without him and the combination of Connor Knatcal (284 yards, 2 TD) and Kael Combs (9-234-2) – both juniors – put on a show with Combs (a D1 basketball prospect) racking up more than 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If their passing game can remain that explosive, you’ll see far more favorable boxes which will make any back more effective. And the Eagles still have an elite defense… Joplin will roll into that game on Oct. 8 undefeated when Carthage comes to town. The Tigers will have to get past Webb City on Sep. 17. Even with a loss, Carthage-Joplin will still decide the COC title. A win by Joplin and it’s over. If Carthage wins, the Week 9 Nixa-Carthage showdown will be an elimination game for someone.
If you liked the Nixa-Joplin matchup in Week 2, you might love the rematch which could be for a district championship.
Last week we were praising Republic for getting Ryan Cornelson his first win at the program. Week 2 saw him get his first taste of the Republic-Willard rivalry and walk away with a win. Now we’re looking at a team that is tied with Joplin and Carthage atop the COC standings. I’m not sure many expected RepMo to be sitting at 2-0 after two weeks… Of the four 2-0 teams left on either side of the Big 8, only Lamar was truly expected to have such a hot start… Cody Hilburn has Seneca at 2-0 following a pair of comeback wins. The quality of those wins looks even better after Marshfield hammered Cassville. The two-headed monster of senior Jaxon Graham and sophomore Jackson Marrs combined for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns. The Indians are 2-0 for the first time since 2017… Nevada was expected to be improved with four starters back on the offensive line, as well as Eli Cheaney and Case Sanderson returning. The Tigers are averaging 53 PPG through two weeks. Should they beat Cassville on the road next week, they’ll host Lamar in what will be an elimination game for the Big 8 West title. Keep in mind, this program went winless in 2019… Kellen Hoover continues to do big things at McDonald County. The Mustangs are 2-0 for the first time since 2017 and Friday’s 45-6 rout of Springfield Catholic is the program’s largest margin in a road win under Hoover. Now Mac will visit Lamar, who has a 12-game winning streak. The Tigers last loss came to Mac… Diamond won just two games in each of the last two seasons, now the Wildcats are sitting at 2-0 with a pair of impressive wins over Ash Grove and Pierce City. To put that in perspective, Diamond opened the season with Ash Grove and Pierce City last year and the combined score was 95-0 in a winless start. Diamond hadn’t beaten PC since 2016. Mac Whitehead has something special in Hunter Shallenburger and Landon Clement… Last year COVID stopped Warsaw from ever getting in a groove. Now, the Wildcats are making up for lost time. They’re off to a 2-0 start, outscoring their opponents 76-20 with wins over Cole Camp and Versailles. Senior QB Brady Slavens is a name to know… Glendale isn’t 2-0 thanks to COVID, but on Friday we got an idea of what they could look like this fall in a 30-26 season-opening win over a very good Rolla team. The Falcons are one of the most talented teams in the Ozarks and not many programs locally have potentially more D1 players than Coach Mauk. There was some rust on Friday, but this team has the potential to make some noise in the Ozark Conference. We can’t reiterate enough how huge them being healthy, especially at QB, is.
0-2 and not worried…
Kickapoo is 0-2 with losses coming to perennial OC powers Camdenton and Lebanon and both were competitive games. The Chiefs will hit their stride and Zaide Lowery’s 90-yard TD reception was just a flash of what the top-100 basketball prospect is capable of. Don’t be shocked to see the Poo get hot… Rogersville is off to a winless start but it’s not time to hit the panic button. The Cats opened with Nevada and Seneca, both of whom are unbeaten with impressive wins. Rog still has the most dynamic player on the field in JJ O’Neal and this is a group that went 7-3 last fall, including a five-game winning streak to end the regular season. The schedule isn’t easy – starting with back-to-back trips to Aurora and Rogersville – but Rog is still in the Big 8 East hunt where no one is better than 1-1.
For the second week in a row we had a game come down to a field goal…
But this time it was Branson freshman Dane Efird taking center stage. His go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter gave Branson a 23-21 win over Ozark. From 2016-20, the Pirates lost six games by just one possession. Friday’s win could be exactly what Branson needs to get rolling. Carl Junction and Neosho the next two weeks will give us a better idea of where Branson is at.
— Josh (@J_Chair) September 4, 2021
Joplin’s Isaiah Davis nearly hits century mark against Colorado State
Former Joplin standout and Missouri Football Gatorade POY Isaiah Davis made national headlines last spring with a monster performance in the FCS national championship game for South Dakota State. On Friday the Jackrabbits – ranked No. 3 in FCS – blasted FBS program Colorado State 42-23. Davis finished with 84 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He’s widely considered one of the top FCS backs in the nation.
Isaiah Davis plunges in from a yard out to give South Dakota State a 35-10 lead over Colorado State after the Cole Frahm PAT … 1:29 to play in the third quarter
— SDSU Football (@GoJacksFB) September 4, 2021
Friday Night Standouts
In case you were wondering, Camdenton is back and junior QB Bear Shore is building off the experience he got last season. On Friday, he completed 25 of his 26 passes for 457 yards and six touchdowns. His maturation as a quarterback was on full display Friday. The 2-0 Lakers get one more test before a titanic clash with West Plains on Sep. 17… We selected Marshfield junior QB Bryant Bull as one of our top quarterbacks entering the season and on Friday he didn’t disappoint, completing 18 of his 23 attempts for 306 yards while adding another 115 rushing yards with five total touchdowns. Marshfield is one play away from being 2-0 and at the top of the Big 8 East… A major reason why Republic is sitting at 2-0 has been the play of senior QB Avery Moody. Last year he was a monster defensively and effective offensively. But through two weeks, he has been nearly untouchable. He throws it well enough, but his ability to make plays with his legs is big time. Multiple 50-plus yard touchdown runs again on Friday night and his senior class walks away a perfect 4-0 vs. Willard…Webb City senior RB Pree Jackson continues to pick up where he left off, torching Neosho for 16-157-3. He’s over 300 yards in just two games… Carthage and Carl Junction were scoreless at halftime and then Luke Gall happened. The junior found paydirt four times in the second half, finishing with 282 yards on 22 carries. Again, he may be the best two-way player in the Ozarks, leading a first-unit defense that still hasn’t allowed a score yet…We touched on it already, but Kael Combs going for 9-234-2 against Joplin is some Dorial Green-Beckham stuff. He hadn’t played high school football until this year but the 6-foot-4 junior basketball standout wil have D1s drooling if he continues to put up numbers like this…Speaking matchup nightmares at receiver, have you seen Hudson Moore? We put the Joplin junior on our breakout list not because of a lack of talent, but because of how special he is. He posted 5-92-1 against Nixa on Friday, giving him 11-174-2 against two of the top teams in Missouri. He’s barely scratched the surface of who he can be.
— Hudson Moore 🏀🏈 (@HudsonMoore15) September 4, 2021