MHS Football vs. Savannah

Maryville football players celebrate with the Highway 71 trophy in the aftermath of beating rival Savannah 42-0 Oct. 15 at the Hound Pound. It marked the Spoofhounds' 11th straight win against the Savages.

On the north side of the Hound Pound — on the spectators’ side of the chain fence — one can see the makeshift football game put together by the group of kids who attend each game. The youth compete against each other, with some spontaneous rule-making, to be the best.

Across that same fence, on the south side, is another football game being played. This one, of course, with a little bit more solid rules and higher stakes on the line. In the case of Friday evening, the game was Maryville versus Savannah, with the stakes being ownership of the Highway 71 Trophy.

The owners of the trophy after the Week 8 matchup: the Maryville Spoofhounds.

“That’s awesome,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said. “The kids talked about it a lot this week.”

The trophy was designed to be handed off between the two programs to whichever team won each year’s matchup. Now, the trophy has started to take permanent residence in Maryville since the Spoofhounds took it home in 2011, and Savannah has yet to reclaim it since.

Junior running back Caden Stoecklein said keeping the trophy in Maryville for the 10th consecutive year means a lot to the team.

“We always want to win, but especially that game,” Stoecklein said.

In the 2021 edition of the rivalry, the Spoofhounds (4-4) won over the Savages (3-5) in dominant fashion.

Maryville’s offense kept its foot on the gas pedal all evening en route to five touchdowns and the 42-0 victory.

The run game was a huge part of why the Spoofhounds had success on offense, with four of the touchdowns coming from the rushing attack.

“That’s our identity,” Webb said. “We need to be able to do that. You know, we’re looking at the end of the regular season, and we need to be able to run the ball when everyone knows we’re going to.”

Junior running back Cooper Loe said Maryville offensive coordinator Matt Houchin doesn’t care if the other team knows his offense is about to run it.

“We’re just going to keep pushing it down their throats,” Loe said with his helmet in his hand, which still had a chunk of dirt and grass stuck in it.

One of the factors that led to the success on the ground was the offensive line’s blocking throughout the entire game.

Senior lineman Tye Halley said when the coaches say they're running the ball, then that’s exactly what they’re going to do.

“We, as lineman, get to do our job, and then the backs do what they do,” Halley said.

Loe was one of the beneficiaries of the offensive line’s blocking, scoring two touchdowns rushing, including a score on the game’s opening drive.

Loe’s first touchdown came moments after the Spoofhounds converted on a fourth down in the red zone, which ultimately set the tone for the rest of the game.

“We wanted to jump out on them early,” Webb said.

Stoecklein was another big contributor in the blowout over Savannah, scoring two touchdowns of his own.

Stoecklein said it means a lot to put in the effort throughout the week in practice, then put on a big performance come game time.

“It feels good to just come out and play hard for my team, and that’s all I wanted to do tonight,” Stoecklein said.

The other touchdown was a 5-yard pass from senior quarterback Connor Drake to sophomore receiver Delton Davis midway through the fourth quarter.

The offense was not alone in this game, and the Maryville defense recorded its second shutout of the season. This marked the first time this season Savannah’s offense was shutout.

“When you play a rival and pitch a shutout, defensive kids are very happy,” Webb said. “I was pleased with our horizontal-run support and not letting stuff outside.”

Webb said he believes the team excelled in all three phases of the game.

While the Highway 71 showdown was one of the major topics going into the game, there was another event taking place for the Spoofhounds: Senior Night.

Halley said it was nice to be recognized as a senior after being raised in the community and the Maryville program.

“Beating Savannah at home, on Senior Night, shutting them out, is just the cherry on top,” Halley said.

Now back at .500 on the season, two weeks separate the Spoofhounds and the postseason. First, though, the ‘Hounds will remain at home to matchup with MEC foe Lafayette (6-2) for the final week of the regular season.

“Cool thing about next week — I think everybody needs to be out here — we're doing law enforcement and first responders, honoring them next week,” Webb said. “We got some special events planned all week, with some guest speakers. We're very proud of our community's law enforcement and first responders and what they mean to everybody. We’ve never done something like that, and it’s going to be a really unique week to finish up our regular season and on the right note.”

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