Ben Walker

Junior quarterback Ben Walker (2) threw for 216 yards and a touchdown of 18 of 26 passings in Maryville's 56-20 win over Harrisonville Sept. 6.

A heartbreaking loss against Blair Oaks, a rout of Harrisonville and an upcoming Week 3 matchup against Chillicothe leaves Maryville football in a nearly identical situation to where it was a season ago.

The Spoofhounds (1-1) will be a week removed from a 56-20 blowout of Class 4 powerhouse Harrisonville (0-2) by the time they take the field again. This week the ‘Hounds will open up Midland Empire Conference play against long-time rival Chillicothe (2-0) Sept. 13.

The win Sept. 6 not only added the first win of the 2019 campaign for the Spoofhounds, but kept a now 14-year streak alive — 14 consecutive seasons without starting the year with two losses.

“(The win) feels great,” Maryville’s coach Matt Webb said. “I think we responded really good, and it’s a credit to the kids for a great week of practice, came focused with effort. That was something that we really talked about this week, is you can have great effort, but if you’re not focused, you make mistakes. I think we had at least fewer mistakes tonight, so obviously I was happy with that. We feel really good about getting a win.”

Something immensely different from Week 1 was the success the ‘Hounds had in the running game, as well as their passing game. A traditionally run-based offense compiled over 200 yards through the air via the right arm of junior quarterback Ben Walker.

This dual-threat approach sets the ‘Hounds’ gun-slinger with another opportunity for a stat-filled Friday against the Hornets, who serve as an ideal candidate for Maryville’s passing game — a Chillicothe team that gave up 204 yards passing to an 0-2 Kirksville.

“I feel like the whole offense has more confidence heading into this next game because we finally started to get things rolling,” Walker said. “We are all pretty excited for this upcoming game.”

Chillicothe comes into the matchup with the Spoofhounds hoisting an unblemished record throughout the first two weeks of the season, a day-and-night difference from last year when the Hornets started the season off with three straight losses before picking up their first win. Included in those losses a season ago was a 47-0 shutout courtesy of Maryville in Week 3.

One of the things the Hornets bring into this week’s contest is a complicated offense partnered with the athletes that are equipped to run it. The flex-wing offense, led by senior quarterback Jaden Winder, that the Hornets will present to the Spoofhounds’ defense was good for over 600 yards rushing in the first two weeks of the season.

“We’re a team where, historically, we want to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense,” Webb said. “That’s what wins games late in the season; that’s what has led to success. So, the kids know it, it’s a culture.”

The Spoofhounds, traditionally ending among the top ranks of the MEC every year, usually hold significantly skewed records against teams they face throughout the conference. Ahead of this week’s matchup, the ‘Hounds have won 9 out of the last 10 games against the Hornets, a long-time rival for Maryville.

“The Chillicothe Hornets have been a rival for years,” Webb said. “Back in the early ‘90s when I played football at Maryville High School, you know, you didn’t really like black and red because that was (Chillicothe’s) colors.”

This week’s matchup gives the Spoofhounds another opportunity to get out of the gates of MEC play with a strong showing. Despite dominance against Harrisonville, the ‘Hounds are looking forward to the task at hand.

“If you want to win the MEC, it’s a lot easier to start off 1-0 than 0-1,” Webb said.

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