With just three games left in the regular season, Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough knows that his team cannot afford to look past the Eldon Mustangs Friday night.
Although the Mustangs enter the game at only 1-5 on the season and 1-3 in the Tri-County Conference, Hough said the Mustangs have also played a tough schedule against the likes of Blair Oaks, Southern Boone and Hallsville. Hough said Eldon’s opponents so far are a combined 26-5.
Boonville’s opponents after six games are a combined 11-25.
1. Can the Pirates stop Eldon’s offense, which is very similar to Versailles’ offense?
The Pirates did a pretty good job last week against the conference’s best quarterback in Koby Williams. Hough said the Mustangs also have a good quarterback, who is a run first QB.
If you want to watch a unit closely, though, Hough said the Mustangs are big in the box and will pose a huge threat up front against the Pirates.
“Eldon is very big and physical,” Hough said. “It’s a little nerving just because of their size and we are not that physical of a team. We are more of a finesse style team, so we will just to see what happens.”
2. How do the offenses stack up?
On paper, the Pirates win this one by a long shot while averaging 36.83 ppg compared to 20.33 ppg for Eldon. Boonville’s defense also goes into the game while giving up only 15 ppg compared to Eldon, who is surrendering 45.16 ppg.
But again it goes back to who the Mustangs have played through six games versus Boonville’s first-six opponents. Aside from Blair Oaks, no other team has a winning record on Boonville’s schedule through six games.
3. Will Boonville’s run game heat up again this week?
It’s hard to imagine senior running back Avian Thomas topping last week’s record after rushing for 371 yards and five touchdowns. However in the last-two games, Thomas has rushed for 521 yards and eight scores.
Boonville will be a run first team again Friday night. The big question is whether the Pirates’ offensive line can get any traction against Eldon’s big front line on a wet field.
The chance for rain on Friday is 70 percent with the temperatures in the high 40s.
4. Can Mustangs even the score against Boonville?
Again, it depends on turnovers and how well the Pirates handle Eldon’s size and physicality. The Pirates won the game last year in Boonville 34-21 but the two years before that the Mustangs handled the Pirates pretty easily, winning 30-15 in 2017 and 41-13 in 2016.
5. Where does a win stack up in order of importance in TCC and district standings?
If you’re a coach, each week is big. But for the next-three weeks, the Pirates will find out what they are made of in the TCC. A win over Eldon Friday and then Hallsville in Week 8 and Southern Boone in Week 9 pretty much  wraps up second place in the conference. But if Southern Boone falls on the road Friday night against Blair Oaks and Boonville wins against Eldon, the Pirates move into that No. 3 spot in the district standings. Southern Boone and Boonville will play in the final regular season game on Friday, Oct. 25th at Ashland.
The Pirates can look past Hallsville next week, either. The Indians are currently 4-2 overall.