Eagles face a muck-it-up attack

Wednesday, August 30, 2017
Dallas Kleiboeker looks to cut back against the grain during varsity action in a win over Liberal. The Eagles travel to Jasper on Friday. Jacob Brower/jbrower@monett-times.com

Pierce City to face 1st road test of the season

Friday marks the start of an extended road trip for the Pierce City football team (2-0). The Eagles will play four consecutive games away from home, hoping to keep their perfect record unblemished and state ranking intact.

The first stop for the traveling Green and White leads to Jasper (1-1) on Friday, where Pierce City will face a team fresh off a 46-40 overtime win over Diamond.

“Jasper is a tough, physical running team that had success at Diamond,” said Brad Hocker, Pierce City coach. “Their main tailback rushed for over 300 yards. They have a big line and the game will be a tough test.”

Hocker said the opposing Eagles run a variation of the spinner offense, similar to the style Lamar has used to win six consecutive state titles.

“They use a lot of misdirection and try to muck up the defensive line,” Hocker said. “A defense has to be on its toes and pay attention to where the ball is. We have to keep our linebackers clean so they can make stops.”

Pierce City enters the game following a 31-16 win over Liberal, a game Hocker said only pleased him for three quarters.

“Liberal had 40-some yards of offense in the first three quarters of the game,” he said. “Due to a combination of us relaxing and getting tired, we gave up 90 yards of offense and two scores in the fourth quarter alone. That is unacceptable. You can’t give 75 percent effort and expect to make it through a game, let alone a season.”

As a result, on Monday, Pierce City began a new training regiment to help them increase endurance.

“We ran quite a bit,” Hocker said. “We are not going to be the team that runs out of gas on Fridays.”

Hocker said his team still has things to clean up. The two interceptions were at the top of his list, plus sustaining blocks and taking better angles to the ball.

“The biggest thing Friday is getting our linemen to not get blown off the ball,” Hocker said. “If Jasper pushes us back just two yards, then they have a major advantage. Our linebackers have to take good angles to the ball and not over pursue.”

Keys for Pierce City

• Make Jasper play catch-up

Jasper has allowed 85 points to be scored in its first two games. If Pierce City can take a two-score lead, it will force Jasper to the air, a difficult position for a team built around the run.

• Stay home

It is easy to get caught leaning or out of position against a misdirection offense. The goal Friday is for Pierce City to follow its assignments and not have individuals go beyond their jobs. Stay home and make the play.

• Start to finish, four quarters strong

Hopefully, with Monday’s end of practice running excursion, Hocker impressed upon his team the need to play hard all four quarters. The Green and White cannot afford another relapse.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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