Maryville football arrived at Bud Hertzog Field in Lee’s Summit, Missouri Nov. 21 to continue the quest for an MSHSAA Class 3 State Championship. Summit Christian Academy looked to ruin the Spoofhounds’ six-game win streak in the Class 3 State Quarterfinal matchup.
Junior quarterback Connor Drake's heroics led Maryville to a 35-9 over Christian, which punched the Spoofhounds' ticket to the Class 3 Semifinals Nov. 28 against Cassville at the 'Hound Pound.
This will be the Spoofhounds’ first Semifinals appearance since 2018, and their sixth since 2012.
“It’s an awesome feeling. I’m very proud of our players and this team. These kids love each other and love playing for each other,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said about advancing in the playoffs. “We’re just mentally tough and physically tough. That’s what our mantra is, you know, the beginning of the season we said, ‘It takes what it takes.’”
Cassville (10-2) came out of Class 3 District 6 as the No. 1 seed, and is looking to make the Class 3 State Championship for the second year in a row.
The Wildcats are stacked on the offensive line with veteran players, including former First Team All-State senior guard Jaiden Reibert, former Second Team Big 8 senior tackle Hunter Chasteen and senior lineman Zach Carney.
“Any time you play a run dominated offense, it’s about controlling the line of scrimmage. Our defensive line has to play with great technique,” Webb said. “They can hit you inside, they can hit you outside, so it starts upfront. We need to be able to control the line of scrimmage. We have to out-execute them in power football.”
Cassville uses a multiple-power offense —a hybrid between pro and spread style. Maryville will look to stop the option. Cassville had one pass-play against Buffalo in the Quarterfinals.
A pair of senior running backs leads the rushing attack presented by the Wildcats: former Second Team All-Big 8 Zach Coenen and Jericho Farris.
While the Spoofhound defensive line will have a challenge of getting in the backfield to disrupt plays, it’ll be crucial for Maryville’s secondary to be able to get off blocks and make tackles.
“In their power-run scheme, they can hit the perimeter. In their option game, they’re really good at utilizing not only the dive, but the quarterback and the pitch. You have to be very disciplined,” Webb said. “Properly executing defense from the defensive back position is knowing where to fit in the run game, that will be their focus this week.”
Cassville’s offense puts up an average of 34 points a game, with two games this season in which the Wildcats scored 20 points or less. The last time the Wildcats failed to score more than 20 points was Week 5. Since then, the Wildcats are outscoring their competition 254-71.
On the other hand, the Spoofhounds score an average of 35.8 points a game, and are outscoring opponents in the postseason, 182-56.
The Spoofhounds’ offense has an impressive backfield of its own, with senior running back Connor Weiss coming off of his second three-touchdown performance this postseason, and senior running back Trey Houchin securing his own hat trick performance Nov. 13 against Richmond.
Drake, who said his passing game has not been where he would like it to be, stepped out of his shell against Summit Christian, completing 4-of-8 passes with 129 yards and one touchdown.
“Coming off a performance like that, it makes our offense more threatening. It proved that our line can run block, but also pass block really well,” Drake said. “It also proved that our wide receivers are excellent at running crisp routes and making catches when we need them to. We’re going to run the ball until you stop us. And if you stop us, we can sling it around, too.”
Cassville returns eight defensive players from last year’s state runner-up team. Former First Team All-State linebacker Coenen made 115 tackles last season. The defensive line consists of three seniors who all weigh more than 260 pounds.
While an inexperienced postseason quarterback has to face a veteran defensive squad, Drake views it as another game on the schedule.
“I know it’s the Semifinal game, but you can’t overthink it. I know (Caleb) Kreizinger and (Matt) Goodridge are going to get open when we need them too,” Drake said. “I know the line is going to open up big holes for Connor (Weiss), Trey (Houchin), Caden (Stoecklein) and Kade (Wilmes). We all trust each other and that’s a key factor in a playoff team.”
Cassville has allowed opponents to score an average of 15.5 points a game, with two teams scoring at least 28 points. The last opponent to put up more than 28 points was Lamar in Week 5.
The Semifinal matchup between the two teams will be played in the ’Hound Pound, where the Spoofhounds have an unblemished 4-0 record this season.
“It’s huge, we’ve never played a home Semifinal football game on Thanksgiving weekend. Everyone in Maryville is used to the Bearcats getting a home playoff game on Thanksgiving weekend, but it’s never been out here at the ’Hound Pound,” Webb said. “You get to play on your home field with a sense of comfort and excitement, it’s going to be a great environment.”