Entering its second game of the season, Maryville football finds itself in an unfamiliar situation. The Spoofhounds (0-1) will look to avoid falling to 0-2 for the first time since 2005, when the current senior class had yet to begin kindergarten.
Following a 38-35 week-one loss to Blair Oaks, Maryville hosts Class 4 powerhouse Harrisonville Aug. 31. By most measures, the Wildcats, who won the 2016 Class 4 State Championship and advanced to the quarterfinals a year ago, are the best team Maryville will play for the remainder of the season.
Still, the Spoofhounds do not plan to yield. Maryville will have a comforting home field advantage at the so-called ‘Hound Pound’, where they have won 53 consecutive games.
“(To beat Harrisonville), it's going to take maximum effort from everyone on the roster,” senior running back Eli Dowis said. “It’s going to be no easy task and we all know that. We know that Harrisonville is a Class 4 powerhouse and it is going to take everything we have to beat them.”
For a team with a sterling track record like Maryville, one might expect a loss to spark a foreign sense of subjugation; a chip on the shoulder. But the Spoofhounds will not dwell on their loss to Blair Oaks, according to coach Matt Webb. Rather, Maryville will focus on the task at hand: beating the Wildcats.
“We’ve got more state championships than we do regular season losses over the last six years,” Webb said. “A loss is not ever acceptable; a loss means you go back and you reflect (on) what you didn’t do correct and you get it fixed so it doesn’t happen again.”
The sentiment established by Webb was echoed by Dowis. The Spoofhounds are a team with a deep-rooted tradition of winning, playing their home games in a town that has grown accustomed to it.
“Here in Maryville, losing just isn’t acceptable,” Dowis said. “It’s as simple as that. We have to find our identity as a football team and make this week a step in the right direction.”
With their mission clear, the Spoofhounds plan to deliver. Webb said he expects to see improvements across the board heading into week two. For Maryville, establishing dominance in the run game early could be vital.
“Every position has opportunities to improve between week one and week two,” Webb said. “We’ll have something to coach off of. I’d say the areas we need to improve the most, on offense, we need to be able to run the football more. We need to be able to control the line of scrimmage; that’s our identity.”
Harrisonville could provide an ideal opportunity for Maryville to resurrect its ground game. The Wildcats allowed Kearny running back Patrick Connery to rush for 197 yard and four touchdowns in thier week one loss to the Bulldogs.
In any case, the Spoofhounds will prepare for the matchup as they would any other. For Maryville, the particulars hold little significance.
“We’re going to try and beat a very good Harrisonville football team,” Webb said. “They’re good, they’re big. They’re larger than us, they’re a Class 4 school and we’re a Class 3 school, but we don’t look at that. We’ve got to go out and make ourselves better.”
In some ways, the matchup with the Wildcats will offer an opportunity for evaluation for the Spoofhounds. And while the outcome of no season is determined by a mostly inconsequential week two matchup, the test ahead for Maryville has the feeling of something more.
“We always expect to win,” Dowis said. “It’s what’s expected of us. This week is going to be a gut check for us and we will respond.”