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Monday, May 2, 2016

Owls play up in class versus Truman

Friday, October 5, 2012

Junior linebacker Tyler Cott (22) leads the Owls' defense with 42 tackles.
(Chris Allen/Democrat-News)
Last week's 41-12 NCMC loss at Moberly was a repeat of the previous problems which had plagued the Marshall football team: turnovers and penalties.

As was the case three weeks early during a 33-14 setback at St. Joseph-Lafayette, those two factors combined -- in the form of three interceptions, two fumbles and 12 fouls for 132 yards -- did in the Owls. That was a point of emphasis during practice this week.

"Making it a priority to hang on the football, making better reads and playing smarter," explained MHS head coach Jon Stockman.

Marshall steps outside the conference, and against a Class 5 opponent for the first time since opening the 2005 season with a 33-14 loss at Rock Bridge, today when they host Truman of Independence in the annual Pink-Out game for breast cancer awareness.

The Patriots (1-5) are a member of the Suburban Red (Middle Six) Conference, and as such play a rugged schedule -- opening the season against defending state champion Blue Springs South.

"They're playing a high level of competition week in and week out," Stockman noted. "They look like a good football team."

Other than a 47-20 loss to the Jaguars, Truman has been competitive with most of its schedule. The Patriots fell short in fourth-quarter comebacks three straight games -- against Liberty North (12-6), Park Hill South (19-15) and Park Hill (24-14). They finally broke through a week ago with a 35-15 victory over Ruskin.

Despite losing all-conference second-teamers in quarterback David Franklin and Jarrett Barren, Truman remains a spread-option club behind sophomore quarterback Alex Ryan -- who passed for two touchdowns and ran for another during the team's lone win.

Senior running back Demetric Dinwiddie provides speed in the running game.

"We're going to have to run to the football and tackle better," Stockman said.

All-conference senior linebacker Stuart Lauber plays the middle of the Patriots' 4-3 defense, which is aggressive in swarming to the ballcarrier.

"We're going to have to get on linebackers and run our feet," Stockman said. "We have to stay blocked up and try to move the chains."

Other than the giveaways, the Owls (4-2) still were effective on offense against Moberly, racking up 281 yards -- only slightly under their season average. However, Marshall gave up 306 yards, including 135 in the air with two starters missing from the secondary.

"We had some kids come in and play hard," Stockman said. "With some experience, learning will come."

While Truman can only gain minimally from a win, the Owls -- currently the fifth seed in Class 4, District 6 -- add 10 points for playing a larger school.

"I guess that's the only benefit of playing a Class 5 school," Stockman said. "We've got to focus on Truman ... and taking care of business before we worry about class."

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