The Boonville Pirates and Holden Eagles took different paths Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
While the Pirates fell on the road against the Eldon Mustangs 41-13, the Eagles won by two touchdowns against the Plattsburg Tigers by a score of 14-0.
The game Friday night at the BHS Sports Complex will also mark the first meeting between the two schools.
Although Holden is 1-0 and Boonville is 0-1, they both will be looking to wipe away the struggles of 2015 as the Pirates finished 2-8 and the Eagles 3-7.
Also during Friday night’s game, former Boonville Pirates football coach Bob Fisher will be honored during halftime. Fisher coached football for eight seasons at Boonville and finished 35-33-4 overall.
As for the Holden Eagles, Boonville football coach Barry Blank said they are a spread option team. “They won’t throw the ball 30 times a game,” Blank said. “They are a predominantly run team. They are similar to us when we run the spread.”
Blank said the three players to watch for the Eagles on offense are senior quarterback Trever Wamsley, junior running back Andrew Martin and senior tight end Bill Faust Jr. He said Wamsley is a really good runner while Martin has good speed and good vision. As for Faust, he said he is a good blocker and releases well to get open on play action.
“We have to contain the Martin kid,” Blank said. “We have to do a really good job in playing our assignments with as much option as they run.”
In the game last week against Plattsburg, Martin rushed for 313 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. Wamsley, meanwhile, completed 10 of 19 passes for 116 yards and also rushed for 29 yards on nine attempts while scoring a two-point conversion.
Of course Faust was on the receiving end on 58 of those 116 yards on four catches.
Holden coach Mike Hedrick also rotated nine different linemen during the course of the game against Plattsburg on offense.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles, Blank said they will line up in a 5-2 and bring as many as five players every play. He said the Eagles will also try to play two safeties over top.
“They are very aggressive up field with those down five guys,” Blank said. “The kid that really jumps out at you on defense for them is senior Isaac Hill. He is a big, physical kid at nose guard and lines up over the center. You have to double team him because if you don’t he will be in the backfield all night. The key for us offensively is that we have to be able to block on the perimeter and be able to block outside. Another key is that we need to take advantage of their aggressive play and be able to use misdirection against them.”
For the Eagles last week on defense, senior Derek Tillotson led the team with eight solo stops along with two assisted tackles and one interception. Senior Clayton Bryant, meanwhile, finished the game with five solo stops, six assisted tackles and two quarterback sacks.
While committing three turnovers in the first half alone last week against Eldon, Blank said limiting turnovers Friday night is the big key. He said the offense has to do a better job of protecting the football and creating turnovers defensively.
“It’s also important for us to get off to a good start,” Blank said. “We want to start the game with a score offensively and defensively we want to have a stop. We found out last week that momentum is everything.”
So much so that Eldon reeled off 27 unanswered points in the second quarter. Boonville led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter and held the Mustangs out of the end zone in the third quarter before the game was called due to lightning.
“The second quarter was not a good quarter for us,” Blank said. “We turned the ball over three times and that led to 21 points. That was a back breaker. The one positive we can take out of it is that the kids came out in the third quarter and got stops and that’s what we ask them to do.”
The Pirates would also like to win their home opener for the second year in a row. While beating the California Pintos in the season opener last year 9-6, Blank said the kids have bounced back from last week’s loss and have had a good week of practice so far. “I think that shows how much pride they have,” Blank said.
Blank said special teams could also play a role in Friday night’s game. He said while the Pirates had a lot of breakdowns in coverage last week, the kickers did everything they were supposed to do. “We need to say in our lanes and stay contained,” Blank said. “It’s something we stressed all week but we have to get better. Holden also had some problems against Plattsburg on special teams so I am sure they are trying to correct that.”