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Boonville finishes with third straight winning season under Hough

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News

Like most teams around the state, the Boonville Pirates football team faced a season of uncertainity due to COVID-19.

Although some teams got in the full 10 game season, some were left without a season of all in the St. Louis area.

As for the Boonville Pirates football team, they had one game canceled due to COVID but still managed to play a 10 game schedule.

In all, Boonville closed out the 2020 season at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Tri-County Conference.

Boonville Pirates football coach Greg Hough said a lot took place off the field during the season.

“That was out of our control as a team and whatever the challenges, changes we faced we accepted and did the best we could to adapt and prevail,” Hough said. “From the summer workouts to ending our season at Blair Oaks, each day and honestly each hour brought on challenges and this team and coaches worked and competed through it all. Making it to Friday each week was a blessing, but the biggest blessing was this team as a whole. Yes, we dropped three games in a row and got beat by Blair Oaks handily twice, but what these guys pulled off many teams, including the teams the last two years, would have struggled throughout. The 2020 team will be a team I’ll always remember, respect and love.”

Despite the three losses going into the district playoffs, Boonville was in the game until the final seconds in two of the three. The Pirates fell to Southern Boone 20-14 but had the ball at the 1 yard line with first and goal. Meanwhile, in the 21-14 loss against California on Homecoming in Week 5, Boonville was driving the ball and had it inside the 25 before ending the game on an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Needless to say, the Pirates still had several good wins  by putting up 74 points against Holden in Week 2 and holding off Pleasant Hill in the season opener for a 25-20 victory.

Boonville also put up 50-plus points in back to back weeks against Osage and Versailles, winning 55-31 and 54-6, respectively. Meanwhile, after the canceled game against Eldon on October 16, Boonville came back to beat a good Hallsville team on the road 30-14.

The opening round of the district playoffs also saw Boonville avenge an earlier loss by beating the Pintos on the road 34-21. However, in the second round of the district playoffs against top-seeded Blair Oaks, the Pirates fell to the state-ranked Falcons 54-14 to end their season. 

Hough said as far as the Tri-County Conference, the Pirates lost to Blair Oaks and then made too many critical errors as players and coaches in two games versus Southern Boone and California. However, he said he feels the team grew each week and eventually played some of their best football the last half of the season.

“Do I wish we would of been doing some of the things were doing later in the year, yes, but we got there through struggles, sacrifices, hard work and commitment to our athletes and program,” Hough said. “Through those struggles and staying together is what made the Versailles, Osage, Hallsville and California victories so exciting. We would of gave Eldon all they wanted to if they would have played us, instead of doing what they did. I’ll always call this team 7-4.”

Although only two teams are left in the playoffs from the conference, Hough said he feels like the TCC was real top heavy with Blair Oaks and then four teams Boonville, Southern Boone, Hallsville and California would battle each other all pretty well each week. He said some scores don’t show it but those four teams had some big games that were equally contested.

“California and Southern Boone returned a lot of good talent from last year’s team,” Hough said. “Hallsville offensively can compete with most anyone. Osage was a team with a good quarterback and big line that could cause problems for some as well. Versailles and Eldon had some pieces, but seemed to be in a bit of a rebuild.”

While averaging 32.5 points per game this season, the Pirates also scored 50-plus points on two occasions and topped the 70 point mark once.

For the season, Boonville finished with 1,917 yards rushing and another 1,115 yards passing for a total of 3,032 yards.

Boonville also closed out the 2020 campaign, winning four out of its last five games.

Hough said the Pirates got better as the season went on as a team and as individuals.

“Each player and coach had ups and downs but the work always continue to and do feel we had positive growth from start to finish,” Hough said. 

The Pirates’ defense also had its moments this season while holding opponents to 24.0 ppg. Boonville’s best game defensively was in Week 2 while holding Holden to two points. The Pirates also held Versailles to a mere six points in Week 7 and then surrendered only 14 points in the final game of the regular season against Hallsville-a team still in the playoffs.

Hough said the defense dealt with some injuries and gave up a ton of points to Blair Oaks, but other than that he had a lot of confidence in this unit.

“We had a lot of guys step up this year like Nash Mckenzie before injury, Max Eckerle, Evan Gonzalez and Peyton Taylor, both who were first year players,” Hough said. “They were stars for their limited/no football experience. The returners from last year also had good seasons and improved on their skills from last. Again, that’s all you can ask for out of kids is individual improvement and commitment to doing their job, which leads to team success.”

Aside from the three losses in successive weeks, which had Boonville at 2-3 and at the midway point in the season, Hough said the Pirates just got beat by a superior team in Blair Oaks and then made too many critical errors in the Southern Boone and California games. He said effort could never be doubted but execution and effectiveness could be. 

“We corrected our effectiveness and execution,” Hough said. “Offensively is where the most changes took place. We adapted to find ways for our kids to understand and execute what we were asking them to do to be effective. Cutting down on our complexity at all positions allowed for more athletes to be a factor in our offense, eventually leading to more success for us as a whole. The kids didn’t change, we as coaches changed and put our athletes in the best situation to succeed and that’s what our job is as coaches. When we adapted and took on a new identity, confidence and production grew and we rolled with it. 

“Honestly, as we transitioned with it with the younger guys as well, they saw some of their most success. We will keep building off of it and see how it fits the teams in the future. I’ll do whatever it takes for these kids to be successful. I may not have all the answers, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes and will work until we find what we think is the answer.”

Although the loss to Blair Oaks to closeout the season was a real downer, the Pirates did avenge a loss one week earlier on the road against the California Pintos. 

Hough said after the Pirates put themselves in a hole at midseason, they took on the “redemption mindset. He said Hallsville was first because the Pirates wanted to redeem their performance from last year. California was next, he said.

“We thought maybe Southern Boone would be in the semis but it didn’t take place like that,” Hough said. “California was a physical game that involved a lot of play that teams would back down from. California gets after you, period, during the play and after the play. They don’t care. Our kids stepped up to it, dished out our own physicality and played the most exciting “Team” inspired half of football I’ve seen here. This team will always remember that game.”

After finishing his third season at Boonville with a 19-12 overall record, Hough said this group of seniors and team as a whole displayed a lot of qualities you look for to coach. Hough added that those relationships were tested but the best work as athletes and coaches was when things were the worst on the scoreboard.

“Those display just a few of the positive qualities of this team and will help the foundation of our program years down the road,” Hough said. “We have some great kids leaving and we also have some great kids returning. Putting in work and time on and off the field and being able to adapt has become a “Norm” for our program. Luckily, we have student athletes that want to be a part of it and want to work and be held accountable. We hope to keep numbers up, get kids involved in multiple sports, keep athletes focused in the classroom and being leaders in the hallways. If we can do that, the football will take care of itself. Again, the stories and careers of each senior on this team is one that a younger player can draw inspiration from.”

While losing 16 seniors from this year’s team, Hough said this was a great group of young men who all have different stories and careers as Boonville Pirates. He said each one is someone that a fellow teammate can look to and find inspiration to succeed.

“I respect all of them and will be there for them well beyond their playing career,” Hough said. “I cannot thank them all enough, express my true love for them, and I hope we can carry on with success in the future. Their time as a player is over, but like I stated before, they left a positive impact on our program and hopefully their blueprint will be followed by others in the future.”

With five starters returning on both sides of the ball next year for the Pirates, Hough said the team will be fine as long as they continue to be strong in their work habits on the field, in the weight room and classroom. He said kids will step up just like they had happen this year.

“I’ve seen a huge change in kids over the past four weeks and decisions being made by athletes that excite me for the future,” Hough said. “We will be find and I look forward to it.”

On an individual note, sophomore quarterback Colby Caton led the Pirates in passing by completing 73 of 132 passes for 1,115 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Senior Andrew Wiser was the leading rusher for Boonville with 128 carries for 846 yards and 14 touchdowns. Caton finished the season with 127 carries for 436 yards and six scores while DaWan Lomax had 19 carries for 213 yards and three scores, DJ Wesolak 21 carries for 187 yards and three scores and Jamesian McKee 20 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

As for receiving yards, McKee finished the season with 16 catches for 290 yards and two scores while Charlie Bronakowski had 13 catches for 266 yards and three scores, Wesolak 20 for 256 yards and two scores, and Lomax with 14 for 220 yards and three scores. 

On defense, the top five tacklers were Harper Stock with 87, Evan Gonzalez with 80, Lane West with 63, Wesolak with 59 and Peyton Hahn with 44.

West also had 23 tackles for loss while Wesolak finished with 19, Hahn 16, Stock 10 and Gonzalez with five.

West also led the team with 13 sacks and four fumble recoveries, while Stock had a team-high four caused fumbles. Lomax, Wiser and Peyton Taylor each had two interceptions to lead the team. 

Season Results

Aug. 28-Boonville 25, Pleasant Hill 20

Sept. 4-Boonville 74, Holden 2

Sept. 11-Southern Boone 20, Boonville 14

Sept. 18-Blair Oaks 51, Boonville 7

Sept. 25-California 21, Boonville 14

Oct. 2-Boonville 55, Osage 31

Oct. 9-Boonville 54, Versailles 6

Oct. 16-Eldon (cancelled)

Oct. 23-Boonville 30, Hallsville 14

Oct. 30-Boonville 34, California 21

Nov. 6-Blair Oaks 54, Boonville 14

Boonville senior defensive end Lane West was a thorn in opponents side this season while leading the team with 23 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and four fumble recoveries.  West also finished third on the team in tackles with 63. The Boonville Pirates football team closed out the season at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Tri-County Conference.