Maryville football entered its Week 8 matchup against Savannah with elevated stakes.
For the Spoofhounds, the game offered a chance to prove their superiority in a game against a disliked rival and the opportunity to clinch a share of the Midland Empire Championship. In a 41-7 statement-win over the Savages (5-3, 5-1 MEC), Maryville (7-1, 6-0 MEC) accomplished everything it set out to.
The game pitted two teams who were undefeated in the MEC at the onset of the match, with a shot at a conference championship and the Highway 71 trophy on the line. Savannah figured to pose a tough test for the ‘Hounds but ultimately provided resistance as Maryville coasted to its seventh consecutive win.
“It feels great,” coach Matt Webb said. “(We’re) certainly not new to a championship environment or a physical game. The thing that I was pleased with was watching new guys step up and really thrive in that environment.”
While the atmosphere proved to be ideal for Maryville, the environment itself was imperfect and unforgiving. A week’s worth of rain soaked Savannah’s field and more sprinkled in for a majority of the contest. By the second half of the game, the once-green grass field had transformed into a mud pit of sorts.
“When you live in northwest Missouri and you play 15 game seasons … we watch the weather but we have a slogan: ‘We make our own weather,’” Webb said. “Weather is what you make of it, both teams play in it, and we’re never going to let it be a factor, so, it’s always sunny and 60 (degrees) when we play football.”
Maryville has just one more obstacle in its path to the postseason, coming in the form of St. Joseph-Lafayette. The Spoofhounds will face off against the Fighting Irish (7-1, 5-0) Oct. 19 with the chance to take sole possession of the MEC title.
Lafayette is 4-0 when playing at home, but has yet to face an opponent as sound as Maryville. The Fighting Irish’s one loss came against Savannah by more than 40 points, making the Spoofhounds the statistical favorite.
As the postseason nears, one might expect the Spoofhounds to have their eyes on the unpredictable road to a Class 3 State championship game, overlooking the inferior competition that awaits the team in St. Joseph. For Maryville, the opposite is true.
“We are staying focused on Lafayette and winning conference outright,” senior lineman Trevor Townsend said. “Lafayette always gives us a challenge. They are always really athletic so we are going to have to stay disciplined.”
With sole possession of the MEC title on the line, the ‘Hounds will head to Lafayette facing higher stakes than they have all season. They know what’s on the line, and plan to play accordingly.
“This is a game where you want to be selfish,” Webb said. “We want to win this thing outright and help ourselves, so it's OK to be selfish this week and go try and win the game and be MEC champs all by ourselves.”
Beyond Lafayette lies an unknown path. The Spoofhounds figure to host a few playoff games at the ‘Hound Pound, but for now, the particulars are pending.
After the regular season concludes, there is no guaranteed tomorrow--just a sequence of win-or-go-home games that will ultimately lead to either a state championship or a crushing playoff exit.
Maryville does not plan to accept the latter, but with the postseason comes uncertainty. In any case, seniors like Townsend are nearing the finish line of their high school careers.
“As a senior, you want to play extra hard and leave everything on the field because it could be the last chance you have to play,” Townsend said. “It’s important to take advantage of every opportunity you get to play a game.”