To say that Friday night’s game against Southern Boone is huge for the Boonville Pirates football team would be a gross understatement.
Although the Pirates already have second place secured in the Tri-County Conference at 5-1, a win would help Boonville possibly move up to the fifth spot in the Class 3 District 7 standings.
But even then if the Pirates won against Southern Boone, they would still have to go on the road for the opening round of the district playoffs.
As it currently stands, Odessa is the No. 1 seed in the district, followed by Pembroke Hill, Center, Hogan Prep, Pleasant Hill. Boonville, Southeast and Oak Grove. As the sixth seed after Week 8, the Pirates would face Kansas City Center in the first round.
As for the game against Southern Boone, Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough said this game is as even as you get and that’s really not coach talk that’s real talk.
“This is going to be a good football game,” Hough said. “I think everything that we have been through this year has prepared us for this situation. It’s a great time to have a game like this going into districts. We’ll see where we stack up. I think it’s going to be a good environment. Southern Boone is going to travel and our crowds have been great this year.”
With identical records of 6-2 going into Friday night’s game, the only difference came in Week 3 as the Eagles fell on the road against the Versailles Tigers 30-22. That game has haunted Southern Boone, who has only one other loss on its schedule in Week 7 against Blair Oaks 56-17.
Hough said offensively the Eagles will be in the spread and will  run option style football.
“The Southern Boone quarterback is definitely a player they center their offense around,” Hough said. “He is a competitor and you can see that on film. He reminds me a lot of the Versailles quarterback in that he wants the ball and plays in the moment. Against Blair Oaks he was out there competing. He has some fire in him and you can tell that when things weren’t going their way he was upset and when things were going great he was fired up. He is one of those kids that you can definitely tell that doesn’t back down to challenges and we have to stop.”
The player Hough is referring to is senior quarterback Sam Stichnote, who is listed at 6-1, 170 pounds.
As for the Pirates, they are coming off a 31-12 win over the Hallsville Indians and have now put together five straight wins. Boonville’s last loss came in Week 3 on the road in a rain storm against the Class 2 No. 2 state-ranked Blair Oaks Falcons 31-0. Since then, the Pirates have defeated California 43-0, Osage 41-7, Versailles 42-14, Eldon 34-21 and Hallsville 31-12.
As for Southern Boone, they also won last week at home against California 56-16.
Hough said if the Pirates can stop Southern Boone’s quarterback and make them do something or make the running back run the football or put him in situations of distress, they can be successful.
“That’s the biggest task this week is to control their quarterback,” Hough said. “It’s been proven that that is a tough task and hopefully our kids are up to it. Our key to success again will be putting pressure on whoever has the football in their hands whether it’s the quarterback or running back, and make sure we rally tackle. We also need to get back to creating turnovers.”
As for what Southern Boone does defensively, Hough said the Eagles will base out of a 4-2-5 which looks similar to Boonville’s defense.
“We ran against that obviously a lot in the summer in preparation but we really haven’t seen in a whole lot of that throughout the year so this week will definitely be going back to polishing up against our defense,” Hough said. “They do a couple of different things than what we do defensively but for the most part it looks like a two high safety look.
“We just need to eliminate the turnover. Last week against Hallsville we turned the ball over with two interceptions so we’ll have to correct that. We’ve also put up decent rushing yards the last 3-4 weeks but I still feel like we haven’t established a good solid run game, where we can chunk the ball down the field where we are getting 6-7 yards a gain. I feel like we have been more play explosiveness. I think a lot of that has to do with maybe the guys toting the rock as opposed to some of our execution up front.”
Hough said last Friday’s game against Hallsville was also the first time this season, other than Pleasant Hill and Blair Oaks, that his team has been down this season.
“Really that’s the first time that we have been in a ballgame going into the fourth quarter good or bad,” Hough said. “We have either been out ahead or getting our butts kicked so to play a meaningful fourth quarter and to see our kids respond the way they did was huge.”
Of course the Pirates also have several players putting up good numbers this season. Junior running back Avian Thomas currently has 1,154 yards on 155 carries and 17 touchdowns while junior quarterback Nick Ferrari has completed 66 of 117 passes for 1,114 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. Junior receiver Tramell Coleman also upped his stock with a big performance last week against Hallsville with 186 yards receiving and 86 rushing for a total of 272 yards. For the season, Coleman has 25 catches for 541 yards and seven touchdowns.
On defense, senior linebacker Landon Weaver currently has 80 total tackles. Senior defensive end Brandon Johnson leads the team with 16.5 tackles for losses while Lane West has a team-leading six sacks. Johnson and West are also tied with two caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries each. As for interceptions, Coleman and Peyton Keeran each have two each.