Scoring three touchdowns on its first three plays from scrimmage put Maryville football on track to a 62-0 first-round victory over St. Joseph Christian Nov. 1.
Entering the postseason as the No. 1 seed in MSHSAA’s Class 2 District 8, the expectation was for the Spoofhounds to win over the No. 8 seed, Maryville coach Matt Webb said. A second offensive onslaught in as many weeks, coupled with the defense’s second shutout of the season, turned that expectation into a reality.
“The goal was to come out and play like a No. 1 seed,” Webb said. “I think we did that.”
The taming of the Lions sets up the No. 1 Spoofhounds (8-1) with a district semifinal date against historic-rival No. 5 Lawson (7-3) Nov. 8 in the ’Hound Pound. The Cardinals are coming off of a 48-10 first-round win over No. 4 Lexington Nov. 1.
Since the turn of the decade, the series between the two programs is 7-1 in favor of the Spoofhounds. Lawson captured its lone win in 2010 when the Cardinals defeated Maryville 17-7. Since then, of course, the Spoofhounds have won seven straight wins over the Cardinals.
The matchup will mark the first time that the programs have squared off against each other in the playoffs since 2007, when the Spoofhounds defeated the Cardinals 15-7.
“One challenge is that they’re physical. Lawson football teams are always physical,” Webb said. “They’ve got a great tradition in their community, just like Maryville. It’ll be exciting.”
The challenge, Webb said, is the talent of the “four-headed monster” Lawson is equipped with. Led by senior quarterback Andrew Stephens, the Cardinals bring a Wing-T style offense — one similar to Maryville’s.
Most of Stephens’s production this year has come from his legs. The senior has compiled 1081 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on 147 carries. With his arm, he’s recorded 468 yards passing with four touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 49% of his attempts.
For the Spoofhounds, Webb said, it will be sticking to the team’s playoff motto of trying to survive and advance. The next chapter in doing so lies ahead with Lawson.
“The goal is to win a district championship,” Webb said. “In order to do that, the first thing you have to do is take care of a very good Lawson football team. … It doesn’t matter if you win by 1 point or if you win by 62 points; the whole point is to survive and advance to the next round.”
To counter the monster that the Cardinals present in their offensive backfield, Maryville is looking to have an advantage with its own “four-headed monster,” Webb said.
Along with junior quarterback Ben Walker, Maryville brings in the running back trio of juniors Connor Weiss and Trey Houchin and senior Aiden Cullin. The running backs have accounted for 10 touchdowns over the last two weeks for the Spoofhounds, making them responsible for 60 of Maryville’s 109 points over that span.
The difference in the game for the Spoofhounds is, perhaps, the offensive line that’s guided them all season.
“The offensive line is great,” Cullin said. “It’s amazing being able to run behind those guys; I think anybody could run behind that line. They’re just — they’re beast.”
“They do everything, we just do the running,” Weiss added.
With a trip to the district championship on the line, the stakes are high. At this point in the season, they’re as high as they’ll ever be — until next week, if the Spoofhounds advance. The pressure causes some teams to crack in the given circumstances, but for Maryville, Weiss said, the task is rather simple. The key is doing something that the Spoofhounds have done in every contest since Week 1.
“We just have to do what we do and come out dominate,” Weiss said. “Just do what we usually do — Spoofhound football — then work for that district championship that we’ve been waiting for.”