Maryville football hosted its third home game this season on Oct. 30 in the first round of the Class 3 District 8 tournament.
The No. 2-seeded Spoofhounds got off to a fast start against No. 7 seed Northeast Kansas City (0-8), with three touchdowns in under four minutes following kickoff. That paved the way for a 60-20 victory.
“It feels fantastic,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said about the victory over Northeast. “That’s what you’re in the playoffs for. That’s why we’re used to making playoffs runs and get to play at home. It’s an exciting time of year.”
The No. 3 seed Cameron Dragons (7-3) came away with a win over No. 6 seed Central (Kansas City) 58-20 on Oct. 30 and will travel to Maryville Nov. 6 for a semifinal matchup with the Spoofhounds (7-3).
Getting a comfortable lead quickly against Northeast allowed for the Spoofhound starters to remain on the sideline after the first quarter. Senior running back Connor Weiss took that as an advantage heading into the Cameron matchup.
“We needed to keep all the starters healthy, which was crucial,” Weiss said. “We got our job done early so the freshman could make some memories along the way, and we get to remain healthy.”
The teams met once in the regular season, when the Dragons struck first with a 1-yard run from the junior quarterback Ty Speer, but were unable to find points after. The Spoofhounds came out on top, winning 27-7 Sept. 25.
Unlike the first matchup, Cameron will have a new face under center in senior Tyler Campbell. Campbell was out against Maryville due to COVID-19.
“He is an excellent football player, he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the conference,” Webb said. “He’s a dual-threat quarterback. He can run and he can throw. Your offense runs through him.”
Since Week 5, Cameron has won four of its five games. The two teams have faced similar opponents with similar outcomes, but Maryville finds itself in the win column against Savannah, while Cameron does not.
On paper, both teams are almost identical. Cameron has scored an average of 35.7 points per game compared to Maryville’s 34.3 points. On the defensive side, the Dragons allow an average of 23.2 points per game, less than Maryville’s 22 points.
With weeks to improve since the last meeting, Webb does not want to focus on what happened on Sept. 25.
“You watch the game, you watch the schemes, you watch the players, and you obviously evaluate that game. You know back in the middle of the regular season both teams have changed,” Webb said. “Both teams are now in district play; it should be an exciting game.”
The Spoofhounds offense relied heavily on Weiss against Cameron earlier in the season, as he accounted for three of the four touchdowns. This time around, Weiss knows it’ll be more of a team effort.
“Personally, I just need to do my one-eleventh and play fast and physical,” Weiss said. “I’m not worried about myself as much as I am the team playing to its full potential.”
In the past 13 games against the Dragons, the Spoofhounds have found themselves in the win column every time. The last time the two teams met in the Class 3 tournament was 2016, when Maryville dominated in every aspect, winning 70-6.
On the road, the Dragons are 5-1, with their only loss coming from Savannah. The Cameron offense seems posed when visiting opponents stadiums, compiling a total of 231 points. On the defensive side of the ball, the Dragons allowed 130 total points scored against them.
“Cameron is playing extremely well. Coach Wallace has done an awesome job; this is this first winning season they’ve had since 2013,” Webb said. “He’s got that program turned around. They’re firing on all cylinders, and their kids believe. They’re an excellent football program coming in here. In the second round of districts, we’re going to have to play very good to get the win.”
In a scenario in which both teams are capable of pulling off a win, special teams will be a huge factor.
“A key point in this game will be special teams and being able to operate in good field position,” Webb said. “This is a big-time playoff game; the state bracket gets cut in half. Everything will be on the line Friday night.”
Although Maryville has only played three games at the ’Hound Pound this season, the Spoofhounds have an unblemished 3-0 record. At home, the Spoofhounds have outscored opponents 164-67.
“Being to host in the playoffs is important,” Webb said. “We’ve talked about our home field advantage a lot this season, and even in last week, just a sense of comfort.”