Maryville football is in full swing with the first two weeks behind the ‘Hounds and conference play about to begin.
The Spoofhounds’ (0-2) next opponent is Chillicothe, one of Maryville’s Midland Empire Conference rivals. The Hornets (2-0) are undefeated to start the season after besting Kirksville 34-14 in Week 2. However, on the other sideline will be the ‘Hounds, who are currently on a two-game losing skid after losing 28-20 to Harrisonville.
When the two teams met last season in Maryville, the Spoofhounds came away with a 62-7 win.
This season, the Spoofhounds will travel for the third week in a row and head to Chillicothe to matchup with the Hornets at Jerry Litton Stadium.
Oftentimes when it comes to rivalry games, past scores don’t mean much. Teams tend to boost the intensity when playing a rival, and Maryville coach Matt Webb can attest to that.
“It’s always important to start off 1-0 in the MEC,” Webb said. “We’re both longtime rival communities that really love their football, and we’re excited to go over and take on a conference rival.”
Senior running back Tyler Siemer said it’s always exciting to go up against familiar foes. He said the energy levels are sky-high, and he can’t wait to get on the field for the game.
Similar to Siemer, senior quarterback Connor Drake said everyone is going to be excited for the game — players, coaches and fans alike. He said every conference game is important, especially with the end-goals in mind.
“One of our goals is to win the conference championship, but we also have to take it one week at a time,” Drake said.
In the case of many rivalries, the teams have spent plenty of time against each other. With school sports, this is even more so because some of the athletes play each other in multiple sports. Familiarity is what builds a rivalry, and high school is full of it. Maryville and Chillicothe are very familiar with each other.
Webb spoke of his days as a player and remembered playing Chillicothe in basketball and football. He said they would meet for summer leagues, in practically every sport, so it was easy to get to know them.
Webb restated that both towns are passionate about their football teams. The love for the game from the two areas and the familiarity between two teams has combined for great games over the course of the years. He used Maryville’s 2017 title run as an example, when Maryville went to Chillicothe for the district championship and won 20-12. Games like that, he said, are some of his biggest memories as a football coach, and it’s what drives rivalries such as the ‘Hounds and Hornets.
“I don’t know how to grade how much your intensity goes up or, you know, emotions or things like that,” Webb said. “I just know that’s why it’s a rivalry.”
Webb said Chillicothe has a very strong run game, and they’re physical on both sides of the ball. He said the team is going to have to be prepared to be physical back. The Hornets’ run-heavy offense has led them to scoring 61 total points in their first two games combined, while their physical defense allowed just 22 points.
For the first two weeks, the ‘Hounds have only converted on 37% of their third downs, while allowing their opponents to convert 52% of the time.
“We want to do better in those situations,” Webb said.
Webb said they go over those situations in practice, and the players need to focus more on applying what they’ve learned in practice and executing.
For Drake, he said he hasn’t been playing his best ball, completing just over 37% of his passes this season while committing four turnovers.
“I’ve been turning the ball over too much, and there’s just little things I need to work on this week,” Drake said. “Just continue to get better.”
After the Week 2 loss to Harrisonville, Siemer said he also learned a few things about what needs improvement.
He said he missed a few key assignments with his blocking for his fellow running backs, and he has plenty of room to improve defensively. In regards to his running, where he earned 9 yards last Friday, Siemer said he thought he did okay.
“I can definitely improve in that aspect, too,” Siemer said.
Siemer said the offense is getting better every week, as the Spoofhounds have shown with their 20 points in Week 2 compared to their 6 points in Week 1. He said it’s just a matter of listening to the coaches and putting what is learned in practice onto the field when it’s game time.
“I think we are gaining confidence on offense, and the only things that are slowing us down are mental mistakes and penalties,” Siemer said. “If we can get those things to not happen, and we can, I think we’ll be really good.”