Maryville football wrapped up its regular season with a convincing 27-7 win over St. Joseph- Lafayette Oct. 19, the latest in a string of eight consecutive victories.
Next, the Spoofhounds (8-1, 7-0 MEC) begin postseason play with a home game Nov. 2 against the winner of the Chillicothe versus St. Joseph-Benton matchup Oct. 26.
Maryville was scheduled to host Northeast Kansas City (1-8) at the ‘Hound Pound Oct. 26. The game was canceled on account of a Northeast forfeit.
For Maryville, the season has gone almost exactly according to script. After an early-season setback coming in the form of a 38-35 Week 1 loss to Blair Oaks, the Spoofhounds caught fire. The team rattled off eight wins in a row and marched undefeated through the MEC to win the conference title.
“It feels awesome,” coach Matt Webb said. “I’m very proud of our kids and their effort. It just goes to show that our guys were resilient and they wanted to win a conference championship.”
To clinch the MEC title outright, Maryville had to outlast the Fighting Irish (7-2. 5-2 MEC). Lafayette had just one loss heading into the matchup, coming against Savannah Sept. 14. The usually high-scoring Lafayette offense was suppressed.
The Spoofhounds took on Lafayette without senior running back Eli Dowis, who was injured Oct. 12 against Savannah, and without starting quarterback Ben Walker and running back Connor Weiss. All three players have been vital to Maryville’s success, but their absence had no consequence in the win over an athletic Lafayette roster.
“To be able to kind of go that race, and go 8-0 and be outright champs is a very good feeling,” Webb said. “(In) Friday night’s game we had three goals: No. 1: team, No. 2: team and No. 3: team, with three exclamation points, because teams win championships, not individuals.”
Lafayette and the MEC as a whole have offered different opposing play styles for the ‘Hounds to match up with, preparing them for the uncertainties that lie ahead in the postseason. From Blair Oaks’ Nolan Hair to Lafayette’s dual-threat Deon McGaughy, Maryville’s defense has encountered varying types of offense led by differing sorts of quarterbacks.
For the Spoofhounds, the regular season is a dry run of sorts, one that prepares them for the playoffs. Maryville’s success over the last nine weeks has positioned it as No. 1 seed in postseason play, giving the team an opportunity for three more home games, provided the team keeps winning.
“Our conference has always been indicative for us feeling prepared for a good postseason run,” Webb said. “You play the regular season to get prepared for a postseason tournament. Obviously, we’ve got a pretty good tradition of winning home football games at the ‘Hound Pound, so to be able to have home-field advantage through districts, playing three-straight games at home, that’s the goal.”
The Spoofhounds will play host the either Chillicothe or Benton next week, depending on the outcome of the game between the two schools. Maryville has faced each team this season, defeating the Hornets Sept. 7 by a score of 47-0 and cruising past the Cardinals Sept. 28 with a 58-8 win.
Still, Maryville won’t take any game for granted. With each playoff matchup comes a larger degree of uncertainty and a thinner margin for error.
“We’re really just going to take it one game at a time,” sophomore running back Aiden Cullin said. “We’re 0-0 again, so we just have to stay focused.”
From here on in, each game is a do-or-die situation of sorts for the Spoofhounds, each one carrying with it weights heavier than the week before. There are just two options in the postseason: win or go home.