After capturing the NCMC title in 2011 in only its fourth year in the conference, the Boonville Pirates football team knew they would have a bull’s-eye on its back heading into the 2012 season.
With a number of players back on both sides of the ball from that team, the Pirates figured to be in the chase again this year. However, after losing to the Hannibal Pirates in Week 3 by a score of 41-12, Boonville also got off to a 0-3 start to the season. But after winning four games in a row to push its record to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the NCMC, the Pirates took another hit in the conference in Week 8 against the Moberly Spartans by a score of 24-6. However, in the final game of the regular season, Boonville knocked off the Marshall Owls for the fifth year in a row while prevailing 28-6 to closeout the regular season at 5-4 overall and 4-2 in the NCMC.
As it turned out, Hannibal wound up winning the conference easily at 6-0, followed by Moberly at 5-1, Boonville at 4-2, Marshall at 3-3, Fulton at 2-4, Kirksville at 1-5 and Mexico at 0-6.
Boonville Pirates football coach Devin Brown said obviously he would like to have the Moberly game back with everything that happened. “We knew Hannibal was going to be one of the toughest teams and that Marshall was going to be an important swing game for us to win,” Brown said. “By finishing 4-2 obviously we wanted to do better but it’s better than what we could have been.”
By finishing third in the NCMC, the Pirates also had a total of eight players selected to the all-conference team for the 2012 season. Senior Damario Walker was the only player for Boonville to be selected both on offense and defense at wide receiver and defensive back.
In all, the Pirates had four players selected on offense and five on defense.
Players selected first team on offense for the Pirates were senior Kelsey Callaway at running back, Tanner Green at offensive line and Walker at wide receiver. Kyle Cook was the only second team selection on the offensive line.
Players selected first team on defense for Boonville were Jared Oser at defensive end, Jalen Poindexter at linebacker and Walker at defensive back. Meanwhile on the second team on defense for the Pirates were senior Jay Barnhart at the end position and Tyler Peterson at linebacker.
Brown said you always want to get more players but for what the team did during the season, it kind of goes in a pecking order. He said like last year when Boonville won the conference, they had the most players on all-conference. This year, he said, it went Hannibal and so on.
“Hannibal had the most this year, which they should have, and then it was Moberly and us,” Brown said.
While finishing the season with over 3,400 yards in total offense, it didn’t come as a surprise that Callaway was a unanimous first-team selection. After all, Callaway led the conference in rushing with 181 carries for 1,228 yards with 18  touchdowns. While averaging 6.79 yards per carry and 122.8 yard per game, Brown said at the start of the season the coaching staff really didn’t know what Callaway could do after playing behind Wes Davis and Dyllan Crowley the year before.
Of course they quickly found out as Callaway saved his best for last while rushing for 328 yards and six touchdowns, which tied the record for most touchdowns in a single game, in the opening round of the district playoffs against Fulton.
“Kelsey had over 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns so that’s a pretty good season,” Brown said.
While Callaway led the team in rushing, Walker was the No. 1 receiver for the Pirates with 34 catches for 515 yards and  three touchdowns. Walker also rushed for two touchdowns out of the Wildcat. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, the senior standout tied for seventh on the team in tackles with 49 with 29 solo stops and 20 assisted tackles along with four interceptions, two tackles for losses, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Brown said to him Walker was unanimous on both sides of the ball.
“I didn’t know if they were going to put him at athlete or wide receiver and they left him at receiver which was fine because I was going to put him at either position,” Brown said. “Damario was deserving obviously and he was our everything. He started off punting and then kick return, punt return, receiver and corner. He did a great job for us and took up as our No. 1 wide receiver and he was first team defensive back. It’s good when the coaches know who your best player is on the other side of the ball. Coaches and players knew he was our best cover corner and that we put him on their best receiver every time. He was our best defensive back out there, but what’s amazing is that this was only his second year of football and look how much improved he was compared to last year.”
While Walker may have been the only player to make all-conference on both sides of the ball, Green was the only repeater on offense from last year.
Of course Brown said when you rush for over 2,700 yards as a team, you want to get some recognition for it. “The coaches put him up for first team which was a good deal obviously for him,” Brown said.
Brown said Cook also had a solid season on the offensive line for the Pirates. While playing both guard and center for Boonville last year, Brown said Cook was moved back to center this season and did a great job. “Considering that he was moved back and forth between two positions I thought he did a great job,” Brown said.
On the defensive side of the ball, nobody had a better game night in and night out than Poindexter at the linebacker position.
A a two-time all-conference selection at linebacker, Poindexter led the Pirates with a total of 150 tackles with 97 solo stops along with 53 assisted tackles, 17 tackles for losses, three forced fumbles and two sacks.
Brown said the coaches didn’t even put Poindexter on the board.
“The coaches said we didn’t even have to put Jalen’s name on the board,” Brown said. “When other coaches do that to me that is the biggest compliment a kid can get. I think by everybody’s stats he was the leading tackler in the conference. We knew he was going to be pretty good but I didn’t think he was going to be that good. He was a playmaker on defense and that’s what helps you when you are under somebody like Wes (Davis) last year. He learned how to play the game and then as a senior it just clicked all of a sudden like that.”
Oser also made the switch from linebacker to defensive end. While playing at linebacker last year and at the beginning of the season this year, Brown said Oser was moved to defensive end in the game against Hannibal and that was his natural home.
So much so that Oser finished only behind Poindexter in tackles for the season with 94. While closing out the season with 56 solo stops and 38 assisted tackles, Oser also had 10 tackles for losses, a team-leading six sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
“Jared didn’t have any experience at defensive end but just jumped in there and played it,” Brown said.
Peterson also found a home this season at the linebacker position. While playing next to Poindexter, Peterson finished third on the team in tackles with 83 despite missing one game due to a concussion. While finishing with 46 solo stops and 37 assisted tackles, Peterson also had four tackles for losses, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
Brown said Peterson came on strong, especially after the Kirksville game. “That was kind of a turning point for him,” Brown said. “He didn’t have such a good game there and took it personal and took it to heart and that’s what you want players to do to get better and he did.”
Barnhart also played with passion at the defensive end position. While finishing fourth on the team in tackles with 70 and first in fumble recoveries with five, Barnhart also had 37 solo stops along with 33 assisted tackles, eight tackles for losses, three sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception.
Brown said Barnhart got off to a slow start and that’s what hurt him. “He started coming on towards the end of the year,” Brown said.