Maryville football defeated Savannah 34-12 Nov. 9 to secure the Class 3 District 8 Championship. On a freezing-cold night in Maryville, the Spoofhounds prevailed through frigid conditions to capture their 12th consecutive district title and their 60th-straight home win.
Maryville (11-1) engineered its first comeback victory of the year, ending conference-rival Savannah’s season in the process. The win came in a non-traditional fashion for Mayville.
For the first time since a Week 1 loss to Blair Oaks, the Spoofhounds found themselves trailing in a football game after a Savannah (8-4) touchdown put the Savages up 6-0 in the second quarter.
“Championship teams have to overcome adversity,” coach Matt Webb said. “I can’t say enough about our defense in the first half.”
There was a revolving door at quarterback throughout the night for the Spoofhounds. Junior second-string quarterback Tyler Haer, junior wide receiver Tate Oglesby and senior running back Eli Dowis all took snaps under center.
Ultimately, it was Dowis that proved to be the difference maker at quarterback, connecting with junior wideout Deon Metezier for a 15-yard score late in the second quarter to tie the game at 6-6 heading into the break.
“For us to go in (to halftime) tied 6-6, that was huge,” Webb said. “Getting that two-minute drill touchdown gave us a lot of confidence going into (the) half. (Eli Dowis) is a heck of a player, a heck of an athlete, just a great kid. I’m glad he’s a Spoofhound.”
Dowis hadn’t played a snap for Maryville since Oct. 12, when the senior went down with a knee injury in the Spoofhound’ first win against Savannah. His return was marked by a somewhat shaky first half when Dowis turned the ball over twice on fumbles.
“He showed a lot of character,” Webb said of Dowis. “He had some turnovers in the first half where a lot of kids would’ve sulked and been down on himself, but that’s not what he is. He’s a winner. He’s a champion.”
When it came to his turnovers, Dowis took full credit. Yet when it came to his success while serving as the team’s lead engineer in a comeback, Dowis was modest.
“Turnovers kind of killed us in the beginning,” Dowis said. “I had only fumbled one time in my high school career. I don’t have an excuse for it, but we figured it out, we started taking care of the ball and we put up 34 points.”
The Spoofhound exited the break with a renewed sense of determination, and with it, a more affluent offensive flow. Dowis found senior running back Tyler Houchin for a 36-yard touchdown to give Maryville a lead it would not surrender.
From there, the offense did not let up. Playing under center once again, Dowis ran for a 5-yard score and found Oglesby on the two-point conversion attempt to put Maryville up 20-6. What came next was perhaps the most entertaining sequence of the night.
With the ‘Hounds leading by two-scores, coasting their way to a district title, Dowis connected with Metezier for a 53-yard bomb. Metezier, a transfer student who spent the first half of his high school career in Florida, celebrated with a snow angel in the end zone-- one that resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
“I felt great, but in the back of my head, I was like, ‘Oh, coach is going to chew me,” Metezier said. “This is my first time seeing snow, and I just wanted to have fun.”
After an 85-yard kickoff return from Savannah’s Jadon Brady, Maryville’s lead was cut to 26-12. The Spoofhounds responded with a 39-yard touchdown run by then-quarterback Oglesby. The score and the ensuing two-point conversion gave Maryville a 34-12 lead, one that would hold for the duration of the game.
In some ways, the game recapped what has been an imperfectly dominant season for Maryville. Dowis was dynamic. Houchin was reliable. Oglesby was a difference maker on both sides of the ball. The offensive line was solid and the defense was unyielding. The Spoofhounds played their brand of football.
“It felt really good,” Dowis said. “(It’s the) first time I’ve played in a month, and to come out and be lucky enough to put a performance like that together, it’s pretty special.”
By the end of the bitter contest, the Spoofhounds walked away with a win over a conference rival, one that produced a district championship. For one more week, Maryville celebrated a playoff win on their home field before looking ahead to what’s next.
Maryville will host the Odessa Bulldogs Nov. 17 in a Class 3 quarterfinal matchup.
“It feels awesome,” Webb said. “It kind of sinks in a little bit, in realizing what ‘tradition never graduates’ means. District championships are (when) you get a patch for your jacket that will always be there when you’re old and gray. District championships hang on the wall in the high school. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but I’m glad we’re advancing in the playoffs.”