Maryville football

Maryville High School running back Trey Houchin holds the ball after the Spoofhounds scored a touch down in the third quarter in a game against Chilicothe High School. 

Maryville football traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, for the second time this season Oct. 9, trying to secure its first win of the season against a ranked opponent and avoid falling to a losing record.

Class 4’s No. 6 Lincoln College Prep (4-2) saw Maryville (4-3) come onto its blue field with an energy not seen yet this season, and the Spoofhounds left with a crucial 49-10 win under their belt.

This week, the Spoofhounds will travel 30 minutes south on U.S. Route 71 Oct. 16 to face their rivals, the Savannah Savages (4-1).

Maryville coach Matt Webb knows the importance of this Midland Empire Conference matchup and the stigma that arises when these two teams meet.

“It’s one of those things that you grow up and they’re your rival just because of location,” Webb said. “When you’re a kid born in Maryville, you don’t like the kids that grow up 30 miles down south of you from the town you don’t mention. When you’re in Savannah, it’s the same thing.”

Every year, players from Maryville and Savannah are hyped up to not only secure a win for their town, but to hoist the Highway 71 trophy in the air after the game, claiming bragging rights until next year’s matchup.

Last year, the Spoofhounds won 28-14, which gave them a share of a MEC title that they eventually won outright.

Maryville senior running back Connor Weiss, who saw the end zone once against Savannah last year, loves this time of the year.

“Everybody loves Savannah week; we get to play them boys down the road and compete,” Weiss said. “That 71 trophy has been with us since 2012, and we don’t plan on losing that baby yet.”

The Spoofhounds have outscored the Savages by a combined score of 319-73 since 2012. However, Savannah is looking to capitalize as they’re rolling with the momentum they gained from their previous season.

Savannah hired Kevin Kopecky as its new head coach in the offseason. Kopecky has a prior coaching record of 188-150, and his teams have made 20 state playoff appearances, 10 state semifinals and two state runner-up finishes.

In 2019, Savannah finished 10-3, with its last loss coming in the Class 3 quarterfinals against Odessa, who went on to win the state title.

With some core players returning, Savannah has a roster filled with what Webb described as winners.

“They’re very physical,” Webb said. “They’re a physical group on the line of scrimmage, and they’ll get after you.”

In the last three seasons, the Savages have found luck when playing at home. Savannah is a combined 9-3 when at home, those losses coming from Grain Valley and Maryville in 2018, and Excelsior Springs this season.

The Spoofhounds are not scared of the challenge posed by playing Savannah on the road. In fact, Maryville has played five of their seven games this year on the road.

“We’re going to bring some insane Maryville Spoofhound energy and do what we have to do to prepare to beat them on their home field,” Weiss said. “Last time we were there, we won 41-7 in a mud bowl. Hopefully we can repeat a score like that.”

Against Lincoln College Prep last week, the Spoofhounds ignited their offense, having nine different athletes get involved in the run game, and ended with a combined total of 396 yards rushing.

To replicate that performance, Weiss knows they cannot afford a slow start and need to keep the pressure on the Savages.

“We need to get off to a quick start and just keep rolling and executing on every play we run,” Weiss said. “Everyone needs to be all in so we can run a mixture of spread and wing-T like we have been and keep the defense worrying.”

Keeping the Savannah defense on its toes could be a challenge within itself. In the last three games for the Savages, they’ve allowed opposing teams to score a combined 22 points, while they’ve tallied 117 points.

While Savannah can rack up a substantial amount of points, especially as of late, Webb believes his defense is ready.

“Our confidence in our defense is exactly the way it is every week,” Webb said. “Our goal on defense is to keep them from scoring. We have confidence in our defense every week; that’s our culture.”

This matchup sees the Spoofhounds reenter MEC play. Maryville currently sits at 2-1 in the conference and hasn’t played a conference opponent since Sept. 25 against Cameron.

While St. Pius X sits atop the MEC, the Spoofhounds will continue to fight for a chance to share or win the conference.

“I felt like we were always in the MEC run. We had that one loss to Pius where we didn’t play our best as a unit,” Weiss said. “We just have to compete and win out the rest of the regular season and hope that Pius gets upset.”

The Spoofhounds are nearing the end of the season and want to secure a win to keep their motivation high.

“We’re showing the team we can do this kind of stuff, and we have to keep reminding each other how that win against Lincoln felt. We have to urge the team to be hungry for more wins like that,” Weiss said. “We found our team click right when we needed to. We need to take these two games and make momentum for the playoffs.”

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