MHS football

Senior running back Aiden Cullin rushed for two touchdowns in Maryville football's Week 5 win over Camerson Sept. 27. 

Following a week where the defense pitched its first shutout since Week 4 of the 2018 season, Maryville football brings in a stout defense, a dynamic quarterback and the leadership of a focused coaching staff into its matchup against Benton Oct. 4.

A 61-0 dismantling of Cameron in Week 5 added another notch in the belt that is the Maryville winning streak, bringing the total to four straight. Spoofhounds’ junior quarterback Ben Walker relayed the message that coach Matt Webb has preached thus far in the season, staying focused on doing what they have to do to win games.

“We really just focus on ourselves — penalties, executing plays, just doing our plays to the best that we can,” Walker said.

Walker has accounted for a heavy amount of the ‘Hounds’ production over the course of the streak. Four touchdowns on five completions against Cameron coupled with another seven scores passing in the four games prior leaves Webb to believe that Walker is adequately doing the job that he was meant to do.

Despite the dominance as of late, Walker’s production could see a dip in the matchup against the Cardinals. Depending on a game plan from the Spoofhounds, the emphasis of attack for most teams that Benton has played to this point in the season is running the ball, which Maryville could exploit. A lackluster run defense from Benton allowed 397 yards rushing to Savannah in Week 5.

The running back duo of senior Aiden Cullin and junior Trey Houchin added another rather impressive showing against the Dragons as well. Through one half of football, combined, they were good for 121 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 11 carries. That marked the first time all season that both backs reached the end zone multiple times in a single game. A spark that the backfield could be primed for come the game against the Cardinals.

“Each week we look at what our opponent does,” Webb said. “We know their record. They’re 0-5 and they’re struggling, but they’ve got some very good players. … They’ll be ready for us, I promise.”

Winless, Benton brings in their offensive weapon: senior wideout Chol Ater. Ater serves as a dual-threat option for the Cardinals, having a fair share of carries in the backfield along with his regular receiving duties. The Cardinals’ star accounts for over 140 yards of total offense per contest thus far in the season, along with four receiving touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns to show for his efforts.

The Cardinals are going to give the ‘Hounds their best shot, as does every team, Webb said. But the area of emphasis for Maryville when facing teams has been the ability to start fast and build an early lead.

“A part of ‘The Process’ that we talk about is having great execution early,” Webb said. “That makes people have to play catch-up. When you do that, it puts a little bit of doubt into people’s minds, so we have big, explosive starts for a reason.”

The ‘Hounds, along with their current win streak of the season, bring in an unblemished 9-0 record against the Cardinals since the turn of the decade. That includes a 58-8 win a season ago in the ‘Hound Pound. This year, the Spoofhounds take the 45-minute trek south as Benton plays host. Webb said that one of the things he’s looking forward to from his team is how they respond after back-to-back blowout wins, with the chance for another sitting right in front of them.

“The focus now is to, ‘Let’s have another one,’” Webb said. “It doesn’t matter what a team’s record is. It doesn’t matter that they’re 0-5. … The kids know that it’s all a part of the process.”

“The goal at this point in the season is to make sure that when we have the opportunity to win a conference championship at home; we just play our best,” Webb added. “It’ll just be setting ourselves up for a playoff run, they know how to make playoff runs around here.”

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