The game Friday night will also mark an end for the football team in the NCMC

After coming off a crushing defeat last week at the hands of the Moberly Spartans 41-7, the Boonville Pirates football team will go on the road tonight to face the 0-8 Marshall Owls in what could set up a interesting finish for the Pirates in their final season in the NCMC.
Like Boonville, the Owls took it on the chin last week against the Hannibal Pirates 48-10. However in that game, junior wide receiver Jaylen Varner set a career high with five catches for 113 yards.
As for the Owls rushing game, or lack thereof, Hannibal held Marshall to minus 28 yards.
As for the Boonville-Marshall series since 2008, the Pirates hold a 7-2 advantage winning 33-13 in 2008, 17-6 in 2008, 41-13 in 2010, 41-0 in 2011, 28-6 in 2012, 28-27 in 2013 and 47-21 last year. As for the Owls, they won in 2014 and 2015 by the scores of 56-28 and 35-14, respectively.
The 35-14 win over Boonville was also the last win for the Owls in a two-year span. Since then, Marshall has dropped 18 straight regular season games.
A win Friday night could also vault the Pirates into the No. 4 spot in the Class 3 District 7 standings. As of last week’s games, Pleasant Hill stands in the No. 4 spot currently with 33.71 points while Boonville is fifth at 29.96 points. However the Roosters play 6-2 Excelsior Springs while the Pirates play 0-8 Marshall.
Hogan Prep is currently the No. 1 seed in the district at 8-0 with 50.69 points, followed by Center at 7-1 with 48.59 points, Odessa at 5-3 with 37.96 points, Pleasant Hill 3-5 at 33.71, Boonville 4-4 at 29.96, Clinton 2-6 at 28.96, Southeast 2-6 at 28.18 and Oak Grove 3-5 at 27.88.
Boonville Pirates football coach Barry Blank said its really about the Pirates.
“We have to play the best football we are capable of playing,” Blank said. “I want to see how we react after last week’s game. Are we going to play the way we are capable of playing or how Marshall is capable of playing? I think we know the answer to that. But our kids are still practicing hard. They want to finish the season above .500 and they want to win their last conference game in the history for Boonville. They realize this game has a lot of district implications so they want to make a run and see how far they can go.”
The Pirates also appear to be healthy heading into the Marshall. With the exception of senior Ben Eichelberger, Boonville will have everybody back in the same spots as last week. Blank said junior Dalton Elder will get the starting nod at inside linebacker in place of Eichelberger.
As for the game last week against Moberly, Blank said when you turn the ball over three times on your first-four possessions, that’s not a really good recipe for success.
“If I can recall I think Moberly made us pay every time we turned the ball over,” Blank said. “We have to really start fast against Marshall and take the momentum away from them. I’m sure they are looking at this as their last hurrah and giving them a spark for their program. We just have to limit the mental mistakes offensively, defensively and special teams.”
The game Friday night will also feature two teams who are polar opposite when it comes offense. While the Pirates are more 70-30 run versus pass, the Owls are 65-70 percent passing.
“They throw it a lot,” Blank said. “They will run a true passing spread attack. They will go 4-5 wide but also have some good skilled kids that can catch the football. However it all starts with senior Kyle Weber and junior Jaylen Varner. Those two are really dangerous receivers. Their quarterback (senior John Haug) also does a really good job of throwing the ball. He also does a good job of using his feet to buy time.”
Blank said the strength of their offensive line also starts with senior AT Williams and senior Carlos Lopez, who both play tackle. He said the two probably average 230.
“We have to get pressure on their quarterback,” Blank said. “It’s a huge challenge for our secondary. We have to not allow big plays and when they catch the ball we have to not allow yards after the catch.”
As for Marshall’s defense versus Boonville’s offense, Blank said the Owls will run a 4-3 and will blitz their inside linebackers a lot.  He said the two really key kids for Marshall are senior Tyler Driskell at defensive tackle and senior Connor Schulte at defensive end.
Blank said Varner also does a good job filling in the box at the safety position.
“Marshall will give up a lot of points and yardage,” Blank said, “but if you leave guys unblocked they will make plays. They are physical and will run to the football. As far as what we do offensively, we have to continue to build on our running game and take advantage of what they give us. We also have to be able to throw the ball effectively, and we have to do a much better job of limiting turnovers.”
Blank said Marshall is also nothing special on special teams. He said the Varner kid is dangerous because he is athletic but as far as the kicking game they just look to punt the ball for field position.
After far as season stats, sophomore Avian Thomas continues to be the leader in the rushing game with 89 carries for 519 yards despite playing in only five games. Senior quarterback Kole Ficken is the next closest to Thomas with 78 carries for 336 yards. Ficken has also completed 22 of 52 passes for 303 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
As for receiving yards, junior tight end Brandon Johnson has 11 catches for 200 yards.
On defense for the Pirates, Eichelberger continues to lead the team with 88 total tackles in only seven games. Johnson has 79 total tackles while Josh Polk has 69. Polk, Johnson, Ficken, Landon Weaver and Gabe Rumbaoa are also tied with one sack on the season. Polk currently leads the team with four fumble recoveries while Johnson has the team high with four caused fumbles.