The first round of district playoffs rarely goes as the seeding predicts. All you have to do is look back to last year and remember that Mexico, the second seed, was upended by Christian, the seventh seed.
But the third-seeded Southern Boone Eagles aren’t looking past first round opponent Fulton – not for one minute of this week’s practice.
“They are 3-6, but they are not your normal 3-6 team,” said Eagles coach Trent Tracy. “Fulton has a lot of good athletes and they lost some very close games in the fourth quarter.”
Tracy maintains that Hornets athleticism will be a challenge for the Eagles.
Fulton running back Nazir McClain and quarterback Cameron Vaughn can both run the ball – Vaughn utilizing nifty ball-handling to get loose on pass option plays.
“He is a good athlete,” Tracy said of Vaughn, “we can’t let him beat us and we will have to put pressure on him every time their offense is on the field.”
The Hornets passing game is average, but Vaughn connected with Makygh Galbreath for 31-yard and 42-yard passing plays last week in their win over Kirksville. The Eagles secondary will not be able to key on the Hornets running game as Fulton will have Galbreath and other talented athletes to catch the ball.
SoBoCo potent running game will face a talented defense as the Hornets forced two turnovers last week and sacked the Kirksville QB three times.
“We have to avoid making mistakes against their defense,” Tracy said. “In district play, anything can happen and we have to clean some things up.”
Fulton defensive end LeCheyon Williams is a top pass rusher for the Hornets and linebacker Tyler Sayler is effective on the blitz as well as pass coverage – he had an interception is last week’s win.
But the Eagles will move on to the next round again this year because they have shown that they can find a way to win – whether they were handing North Callaway their only loss of the year in a 15-12 nail biter or in a 55-51 shootout with Osage.
SoBoCo has running backs Jackson Sartain, Cooper Mange, Colby Phillips and Tristen John to pound the ball into the line. Quarterback Sam Stichnote also showed off his scrambling skills last week – making long runs when blitzed by the Versailles defense.
Defensively the Eagles are healthy and have Charlie Smith in the middle of the line and linebacker Ty Varvil playing their best football of the season.
Look for a key matchup to be Varvil and outside linebacker Nate Allen defending against Vaughn’s running ability.
The Eagles’ ability to control the line of scrimmage and special teams play should offset Fulton’s recent momentum. Look for the Eagles to move onto the next round.