As Maryville football enters Week 7, the Spoofhounds find themselves in familiar territory. For the fourth time this season, the Spoofhounds will be facing a ranked opponent, and they will be on the road for the fifth time.
Maryville (3-3) will be traveling to Kansas City, Missouri, for the second time this season, but this time matching up with Lincoln College Prep (4-1).
Maryville’s record against ranked opponents this year is not among the bright spots for the team, standing at 0-3. The three losses were dealt out by Blair Oaks in Week 1, St. Pius X in Week 4 and Odessa in Week 6.
Maryville’s three losses are to teams with a combined record of 16-1.
However, with each week comes improvement, and Maryville coach Matt Webb is not scared of the challenge this schedule holds.
“I think it makes us better as a football team,” Webb said about the tough schedule the Spoofhounds have faced. “When you play good people, it makes you play good.”
The last time the ’Hounds shared a football field with the Tigers was Oct. 20, 2017, in the Class 3 State Tournament. Maryville put on an offensive clinic, winning 69-26.
Lincoln saw a total rebuild of its program after the 2017 season. Since the loss to Maryville, the Tigers have gone 21-6.
Besides updating facilities and the coaching staff, Lincoln’s roster is composed of top-tier talent. The Tigers have four of the top Rivals.com ranked players in the state of Missouri. This includes their senior quarterback Howard Brown, who stands at 6 feet, 2 inches and weighs 275 pounds. Brown recently committed to Iowa State University.
The Spoofhounds’ defense will have a tall task to conquer come game time, but senior linebacker Drew Spire is using last week’s matchup against Odessa to improve.
“The game last week gave us a lot of confidence,” Spire said. “Coach called this a turning point in the season; I think we’ll turn it around.”
Stopping Brown will be easier said than done for the Spoofhounds. Brown’s physical attributes alone are unlike anything Maryville has seen from a quarterback this season. The ’Hounds’ offensive linemen all fall short of the quarterback in both size and weight.
Brown’s size creates a resemblance of former, now late University of Kentucky and New York Giants quarterback Jared Lorenzen. Proper tackling form will be of essence, as Brown is not going to fall by arm tackles.
The Tigers’ offense has provided Brown with speed and raw talent. The Spoofhounds will have to be well disciplined, as Lincoln College Prep places emphasis on multiple players in their offensive schemes.
Maryville will have to keep pressure on Brown to force him to make erred throws, while watching runs from both the backfield and jet sweeps. Webb knows this game will take a full defensive effort.
“It’s an all-11 defense; we have to do better as a defense,” Webb said. “It’ll be a monster effort to try and stop the talent they have at quarterback, at running back and the receivers. It’s going to take an all-11 commitment to play good defense against these guys.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Maryville is hoping to establish the ground game early, as it’s failed to do so against ranked opponents.
Against Odessa, both two touchdowns for the Spoofhounds came from the arm of junior quarterback Connor Drake. The loss to the Bulldogs was the second game this season Maryville failed to score a touchdown rushing.
“We’re going to continue to work on our run blocking skills and get better on the line of scrimmage,” Webb said. “We need to open up holes and get better at running the football.”
While falling short against the Bulldogs Oct. 2, Drake believes the offense can still make the necessary steps to pile on points.
“We just got to put our best foot forward and just go out there and play our hardest,” Drake said. “I mean, you’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some, but if we just come out and play Spoofhound football, we’ll be fine.”
Not only will the defense and offense have to pull their weight, but special teams will look to clean up its act after having two punt miscues that led to Bulldog points.
“When you play good teams, like they are, it causes you to be very precise in what you do,” Webb said. “You can’t make mistakes against good teams and give them more opportunities than what they already have.”
A 6 p.m. kickoff is set for the Oct. 9 matchup, which is an earlier start than what Maryville is accustomed to. Lincoln will also restrict fans from attending the game.
“It’ll be a unique experience. They got blue turf, so it looks like Boise State, and they’re a unique football program,” Webb said. “We’re excited to play them.”