Finishing 5-5 for the 2017 season has paid off after all for the Boonville Pirates football team.
While moving to the Tri-County Conference in 2018, the Pirates closed out their best season in five years under head coach Barry Blank while finishing 3-3 in the North Central Missouri Conference.
The Pirates also received good news recently from the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Assocation after having five players selected to the North Central Missouri All-District Football Team.
Senior Gabe Rumbaoa was the only first team selection both ways for the Pirates while starting at center the last four years on offense and defensive end.
Junior Brandon Johnson was selected first team at linebacker and second team at tight end. Senior Thomas Simmons, meanwhile, was the only other first team selection at kicker. Seniors Kole Ficken and Ben Eichelberger were both second team selections on defense at end and linebacker, respectively.
Blank said in his opinion when you get chosen by the media to the all-district team they are impartial, objective voters and that makes it a unique honor separate from the coaches all-district team.
“I think the other thing that makes it special was how good the other teams respresented in the district and how good they were,” Blank said. “There were a lot of good football players in the area. Finally, what makes football postseason awards special is that it takes 11 players to have success to allow certain players to get awards.”
The North Central District for Class 3 is made up of teams from the Tri-County Conference and further south such as Blair Oaks, Eldon, Fulton, Owensville, Salem, School of the Osage, Southern Boone and St. James.
Rumbaoa, a four-year starter on both offense and defense for the Pirates, anchored the offensive line and finished with 35 total tackles on defense with nine tackles for losses, one fumble recovery and one caused fumble.
As for Johnson, who was also a two-way starter, the junior standout led the Pirates in receiving yards with 16 catches for 288 yards and one touchdown and finished second in tackles only to Eichelberger with 94 along with a team-leading 11 tackles for losses. He also had one sack, one interception, one fumble recovery and five caused fumbles.
Simmons also came into his own this past season in his first year of football. While averaging 40.7 yards per kick on kickoffs, Simmons also finished the season 15 of 20 on PATs and was 5 of 9 on field goal attempts. He also made three field goals in the regular season finale against Marshall, which tied him for fourth all-time with 16 other kickers in Missouri state history. The 45 yard field goal against the Owls also set a school record.
As for Ficken, he too, played both ways for the Pirates while splitting time between running back and quarterback. On offense, Ficken completed 37 of 77 passes for 548 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions. He also led the team in rushing yards with 110 carries for 551 yards and nine touchdowns. Meanwhile, on defense, Ficken finished the season with 29 total tackles with 10 tackles for losses, two sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and one caused fumble.
Eichelberger also had a stellar season on the defensive side of the ball this past season for Boonville. While playing in only eight games, Eichelberger still managed to lead the team in tackles with 97 along with five tackles for losses.