Coming off of an unusual bye-week, Maryville football is aiming to keep rolling in conference play when the Spoofhounds take on MEC rival Savannah in the ’Hound Pound Oct. 18.
Due to former MEC member Bishop LeBlond joining the ranks of 8-man football, the ’Hounds (5-1) found themselves with a void in their schedule in Week 7. Coach Matt Webb and company took the non-traditional route for teams that have a bye-week and prepared the Spoofhounds throughout the week as if they had a game.
“I firmly believe that you can either win or lose a bye week,” Webb said. “We definitely won. We had great practices. … We’re healthy; we’re excited to play. And now we’ll get ready to play for at least a share of a conference championship at home — that’s our focus.”
Two teams are unblemished in MEC play. Only one will remain that way after the battle of the unbeaten Oct. 18.
Savannah (6-1) provides the biggest test for the Spoofhounds to this point in the season, mainly due to the challenges that the Savages present to the Spoofhounds on both sides of the ball.
Savannah brings in a stout run defense, something that the Spoofhounds haven’t exactly faced to this point in the season. Along with the run defense, Savannah brings in a strong rushing attack on offense that’s led by senior quarterback Chase Spoonemore.
The matchup will give the Spoofhounds a chance to hold true to the word of Webb, who said that good football teams are able to run the football and play tough defense. For Maryville, Webb said, being able to do that would put the ’Hounds in a position to like the outcome at the end of the game.
Maryville’s running back by committee approach has served as a bright spot for the Spoofhounds’ offense. Junior running back Trey Houchin knows that the backfield has to have a good performance to outlast Savannah’s defense.
“With our offense, we want to explode on them,” Houchin said. “Our coaches have been telling us all week that this is the best defense in the conference, so hopefully we can get it rolling on offense. … We all want to contribute against a great defense; if the offensive line does its assignment, we will get it going and have a great night and explode.”
Along with focusing on the offense’s performance, Houchin serves as a two-way player for the Spoofhounds. Houchin’s secondary position of outside linebacker leaves the junior having to prepare for both of Savannah’s rushing attacks.
When it comes to Spoonemore, scheming for the senior could be arduous. The leader of the Savannah offense accounts for more than 300 yards of offense per game. Whether it be in the air or on the ground, the quarterback serves as the anchor of the offense for the Savages.
For the Maryville defense, Houchin said, it’s as simple as getting Savannah’s offense into long-distance situations and defending the run.
“(Spoonemore) is a winner,” Webb added. “He reminds me of a Tim Tebow kind of player. … He can really throw the ball and hurt you, much like he can with his legs.”
Aside from the X’s and O’s on the field, aside from conference title implications and aside from a blemish on their conference record, the rivalry behind the meeting of the two teams runs deep.
Since the turn of the decade, Maryville is 8-2 against Savannah. The last loss coming Oct. 7, 2011. That loss marks the last time that the Spoofhounds lost a home football game, a streak that’s now standing at 63 games. Come Oct. 18, Maryville is looking to add another notch to that streak, as well as hold on to the Highway 71 trophy.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Webb said. “You want to win those games. … Over the years, these have always been competitive games. This year, we’re both playing really good right now; so there’s a lot of pride in winning a conference championship, so both teams will be ready.”