Owls struggle in football Jamboree

Monday, August 17, 2015
The Owls' longest run was an 18-yard gain by freshman Jairon Jasper against Oak Grove's reserves. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

OAK GROVE -- Marshall head football coach Jon Stockman wanted to look at the bright side of his team's performance Friday during the Oak Grove Jamboree.

"I saw some good things out of our kids at all three levels," he said. "Defensively, we got to shore some stuff up."

A more jaundiced observer may have been less sanguine. The Owls' first-team offense failed to score in its 18 plays while the defensive starters allowed two touchdowns.

Overall, Marshall was unable to run the ball consistently, gaining only 23 yards on 14 attempts. Whether that was due to ineffective blocking or poor running, or a combination of both, is open to debate.

"We're going to have to get better up front in a hurry," Stockman admitted.

Of course, all teams were only showing the basics -- not wanting upcoming opponents to have much to observe in their scouting -- but even with that the Owls' three foes managed 87 rushing yards on 14 carries.

In the first of the three sessions, Marshall was matched against another Class 4 squad coming off a similar campaign. Warrensburg (3-7 in 2014) only yielded five yards on five plays by the Owls' first team other than a 16-yard quarterback keeper run by senior Zach Maupin, most of the gain being wiped out by a holding penalty.

The Tigers, though, only gained 22 yards -- but did score on a 23-yard run when the second strings went head to head.

Stockman had been curious going in about how his squad would fare against defending Class 3 state champion Oak Grove (13-2), but other than a 9-yard pass from Maupin to junior Kade Plattner on the opening play, there wasn't much to cheer.

"We threw a couple of stop routes that were pretty good for us," Stockman said. "Otherwise, we didn't get into the playbook very deep."

Marshall's subs fared a little better on offense, freshman Jairon Jasper reeling off an 18-yard dash. Sophomore John Haug threw a 22-yard touchdown pass which was wiped out by a penalty.

The Panthers' offensive starters gained no fewer than four yards on its first five plays, all on the ground, including a 19-yard touchdown sprint. Their subs got into the end zone three times on runs of 13, 8 and 35 yards -- plus picked up 27 yards to set up their second score.

A 30-yard catch by Plattner late in the first team's set against Class 2 district finalist Higginsville (11-2) got the Owls into scoring position, Haug capping off the drive with a three-yard sneak.

The Huskers got a receiver behind the secondary for a 23-yard TD in the air, but the Marshall starters' turn ended with sophomore Ty DeBurns dropping the quarterback for a three-yard loss. The final play of the night was also a sack, freshman Duffin Makings making the stop nine yards behind the line.

Whether the less-than-stellar performance by the Owls was a shaking off of rust or the harbinger of a difficult campaign ahead will be known before long. In the meantime, there's plenty of work today before Friday's season opener at home against Chillicothe.

"I'm excited for these kids," Stockman declared. "I think they're ready to hit on Chillicothe in a real ball game."

Contact Chris Allen at callen@marshallnews.com

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