Eagles line up for Battle for Wentworth

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Pierce City football excited for home opener

For the first time this season on Friday, Don Keebaugh Stadium will be rocking.

The Pierce City football team (1-1) opens its four-game home stretch this week with a familiar and powerful foe, hosting Sarcoxie (2-0) for the Battle for Wentworth.

“It’s an important game for a lot of folk around here, and the kids do a good job in that regard,” said Brad Hocker, Pierce City football coach. “Sarcoxie is really talented this year, and they have a lot of players coming back.”

Hocker said a hallmark of the game this year will be physicality, and the Eagles are up to that challenge.

“Coach [Russell] Elliis does a great job on both sides of the ball, and Sarcoxie is a physical, fast and aggressive team,” Hocker said. “We always want to establish our physicality in one way or another, and this week, we have to capitalize on our opportunities.”

The Eagles are coming off a 21-12 loss to Diamond on the road, a game Hocker believes could have gone the other way if those opportunities were realized.

“We were inside the 10 three times last week,” Hocker said. “One time, we turned it over, and the other two times, we just couldn’t punch it in. That’s where our physicality should come into play. Our kids are smart and recognize that, and we will get it done.”

Sarcoxie is off to a 2-0 start to the season after wins over Houston, 30-13, and Wyandotte (Okla.), 42-7.

While the Battle for Wentworth is always highlighted on the calendar for Eagles fans, the game has extra implications this season.

For the first time since the 2017 season, the Bears are in the Eagles’ district, Class 1, District 3, meaning the game could have postseason seeding consequences.

Only two weeks in, Sarcoxie is No. 2 in the district, and Pierce City is No. 7, meaning if the playoffs were right now, the two would meet in the first round.

The Eagles, however, aim to keep the outside noise from being a distraction.

“This game is just as important as every other game,” Hocker said. “The kids understand that. We’ve had some success in the past, and that comes from the kids understanding what we want to accomplish And our high standard to compete and win. And, we as coaches have to put the kids in a good position to get it done.”

After two weeks of play, Clayten O’Hara leads the Eagles in rushing and receiving, taking the ball 43 times for 237 yards and 3 touchdowns and catching 6 passes for 101 yards and 1 touchdown.

Quarterback Payton Moennig is 13-of-22 through the air for 155 yards, 2 scores and 2 picks. He has rushed 29 times for 70 yards.

Zane Clayton bolsters the backfield with 11 carries for 62 yards, and he, Noah Crews and Judah Linn have 2 catches each on the season.

Defensively, Clayton leads in tackling with 6 unassisted and 15 assisted, plus 5 tackles for loss. Brian Canales is not far behind with 3 unassisted and 15 assisted, plus 4 tackles for loss. Dylan Carman has 4 unassisted and 9 assisted, plus 3 tackles for loss.

Jaxon Turner and Hugh Chapman have a fumble recovery each, and Turner also has an interception.

Kickoff against Sarcoxie on Friday is at 7 p.m.

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