MHS Football

Maryville senior running back Tyler Siemer fights through a tackle while diving for the end zone during the Spoofhounds' 26-25 loss to Lincoln College Prep Oct. 8 at the 'Hound Pound. The loss marked the first time the Spoofhounds lost a homecoming game in over 10 years.

For some, it’s just another Missouri highway — black pavement, yellow lines and farmland on both sides. But for others, it’s the birthplace of one of the biggest rivalries in the northwest corner of Missouri.

Separated by that segment of black pavement with yellow lines on it, 28 miles apart, sit two towns with a combined population of less than 17,000 people. When it comes to a Week 8 showdown between the two Midland Empire Conference rivals, the size of the towns and distance between them don’t matter. What does matter is being the owner of the Highway 71 Trophy until the two programs meet the following fall.

For nine straight years, Maryville football has owned the rights to the trophy over rival Savannah.

“When you have a rivalry game like this, you can throw the records out the book,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said.

Maryville has won each of the last nine matchups by at least two scores, including when the two programs met in the 2018 Class 3 State Tournament.

Not once in those nine years did both the Spoofhounds (3-4) and the Savages (3-4) come into the game with the same record on the season.

Similarity between the two does not stop at records, though. The ‘Hounds and Savages are close in scoring and in points allowed. Maryville scores an average of 28.6 points, compared with Savannah’s 25.7 points per game. Additionally, on average, Maryville allows 20.9 points per game and Savannah allows 21.9.

“This is always a heated battle,” Webb said. “Always an exciting game.”

Webb said he is looking forward to the next edition of the rivalry and for the chance to increase the streak up to a decade long.

In order for the Spoofhounds to do so, they will have to stop Savannah’s offense, which focuses on the run-pass option. The Savages offense is led by junior quarterback Ethan Dudeck, who is more than willing to both run and pass.

Webb described Dudeck as a great athlete who can run the ball very well and complete passes over the top of the defense.

“It’s difficult to defend,” Webb said. “We’ll have to do a good job in order to combat that.”

During practice, Webb said, the Spoofhounds will be working on defensive schemes all week to accomplish that.

Offensively, Maryville will have to compete against the Savannah defense, which, over the past three games, has improved its points allowed per game by 7 points.

One of the Savages’ biggest strengths, Webb said, is their size.

“They’re big up front and will be hard to move,” Webb said.

Webb said the linebackers are also bigger body types and can clog the running lanes. As running the ball is a significant part of Maryville’s offense, Webb said the Spoofhounds need to be sure the blocking is good up front.

Junior defensive back Cooper Loe said they’ll be ready to go on Friday.

“I think we’re going to come into Savannah guns up,” Loe said.

Loe said the tough loss last week to Lincoln College Prep in Week 7 will have the team fired up for the game against the Savages.

Senior running back Tyler Siemer agreed the loss will also be motivation for the team this week. He said it would be great to get back to the winning side of things, especially after the 26-25 loss.

“I think we need to come out, play like we can play and make a statement,” Siemer said.

The rivalry between the Spoofhounds and the Savages is something Webb said he remembers from his time as a player. No matter what the year was or what the records were, it was always a great rivalry, Webb said.

The proximity, those aforementioned 28 miles, is what helps drive the rivalry, Webb said. The players go against each other all year, in multiple sports, and they get more familiar with each other over the years. Another big part, he said, is that both towns are prideful in their youth sports and their football teams.

“For me, personally, the game is always about the kids,” Webb said. “It’s about the players on the field and the memories they make, and that’s what we always focus on.”

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