Owls renew rivalry with Smith-Cotton

Friday, August 29, 2014
The Owls are hoping to get the blocking up front which will open running lanes for junior Garrett Clouse and the rest of the backfield. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

The Marshall football team walked away from its first game of the season feeling it could have won.

The Owls didn't, because they gave up two big plays and couldn't finish drives in the red zone, falling at Chillicothe, 14-6. Yet, their overall performance was encouraging as they gained 247 yards, won the turnover battle and had few costly penalties.

"There were a lot of positives," admitted MHS head coach Jon Stockman. But ...

"We've been talking to the offensive line about goal-line offense and the importance of that," he said. "We're going to be better at that position."

The Owls travel to Sedalia today to meet Smith-Cotton for the first time since losing a 28-21 home contest in 2009. The Tigers are coming off a 4-7 campaign and have a new coach in Ryan Broyles, an assistant on Mark Johnson's staff the last four years.

Smith-Cotton also had its chances last week during a 22-7 loss at Republic, cutting into a 13-0 deficit on junior Caleb Reed's touchdown pass to junior Blake Johnson to have a chance to take the lead before an interception in the end zone stopped the comeback bid.

The Tigers (0-1) only returned four starters on both sides of the line, but one of them is talented junior quarterback Caleb Reed, who they try to use in multiple ways.

"Formation-wise they're all over the place," Stockman said. "Our defense is going to have to be ready for a lot of different looks."

Reed threw for 113 yards last week, connecting with four different receivers, but Smith-Cotton only ran for 67 yards on 26 attempts.

"Their offensive line is pretty good," Stockman said. "They've got some receivers who can run and catch the ball."

The Tigers' defense is solid up the middle with senior linebacker Rex Walters and junior free safety Dalton Zaremba, who combined for 24 tackles last week.

"They fly around and are good tacklers," Stockman noted. "We're going to have to be better if we're going to be successful."

That's the bottom line for Marshall (0-1): taking care of its own business, regardless of the opponent. Once again, that starts up front with blocking -- as Stockman, a former Missouri Valley College guard, keenly realizes.

"We've had more enthusiastic offensive line sessions this week," Stockman declared. "We've had higher levels of urgency.

"When it's inside the 10 [yard line], inside the 20, they've got to know it's up to them to get it done," he added. "Nobody else is going to block that front seven."

The pass blocking was good enough and junior Zach Maupin's debut as starting quarterback was better than his nine-of-26 completion log indicated -- but "the drops were the most concerning thing," according to Stockman. "Big-time players have got to make plays."

The Owls have an opportunity to do themselves a lot of good against Smith-Cotton, a Class 5 foe which will gain them 10 bonus points in the district ratings. A win would also be a nice springboard into the NCMC schedule.

"We'll see how much we improved from Week 1," Stockman said.

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

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