The SoBoCo Eagles football team will take a five-game winning streak into the Class 3, District 6 championship game on Friday night.
However, they will travel to Wardsville to face the No. 2 ranked Blair Oaks Falcons – who are riding a 10-game winning streak.
That doesn’t mean the Eagles will be mailing this one in – they have worked too hard and grown too much as a team since August to not think they can compete with the Falcons.
Coach Trent Tracy says his team has plenty of respect for Blair Oaks and they learned a lot from playing them earlier this year – a 42-13 loss in Ashland.
“We need to adjust to their quickness – especially their defensive linemen and linebackers,” Tracy said. “Their defense is really good and they fly to the ball.”
In their previous meeting, the Falcons stacked three quick TDs for an 18-0 lead in the first quarter. However, once they settled down, the Eagles played with the Falcons in the second frame, but the Falcons came back after halftime and widened the gap again to put the game out of reach.
For the Eagles to put themselves in position to pull an upset, they know that they will need a different mix this time around.
“We know that they are quick and have fast guys running and catching the ball,” Tracy said, “we will have a challenge keeping them out of the end zone. But a key part of this game will be limiting their big plays and not hanging our head when they do make a big play.”
Tracy and the Eagles will key in on three aspects of the game which could turn the tide in any high school football game – penalties, turnovers and special teams.
“Like I said about the Christian game,” Tracy noted, “we needed to play better than them in those three areas. We had two fumbles, but we also got two interceptions. We will have to limit our mistakes and execute.”
The Eagles defense will have to try to limit the multiple weapons in the Blair Oaks offense. Running back Jake Von Ronzelen had 200-plus yards rushing against the Eagles in their first game and quarterback Nolan Hair threw for 197-yards. SoBoCo will not shut those two down – they are that good – but will need to limit the number of big yardage plays from them.
On the other side, the Eagles offense is on a roll since they lost to the Falcons, scoring 48, 48,48, 49 and 56 points in their last five games. Quarterback Spencer Taggart has had only one bad game this year (the loss at Osage) and will not typically make throws into coverage. Look for the Eagles to continue to complete passes in the 5- to 12-yard range and let speedy receivers Kolton Schupp and Clay Jeffrey make yardage after the catch. Sam Stichnote might just be the best sophomore receiver in the conference and Taggart has been able to find him for long TDs pass plays this season – Friday night would be a good time for another Taggart-to-Stichnote score.
The Eagles running game has been in high gear the past four weeks, and their success Friday – or the Falcons success in stopping them – could spell the difference in the outcome.
Tanner Smith has shown he can get 2-4 yards whenever needed and speedy running backs Colby Phillips, Jackson Sartain and Cooper Mange have had the blocks to spring them for long runs. If the Eagles offensive line can open holes in the Falcons defensive front, this will be a very competitive game.
SoBoCo and Blair Oaks will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday in Wardsville.
NOTE: The athletic department is organizing a “send-off” and asking residents and business owners to line Main and Broadway at 3:45 to cheer the Eagles football team as they leave town on Friday afternoon.
Southern Boone @ Blair Oaks
7 p.m. Friday, November 4, 2016