By TUCKER FRANKLIN
After a solid season for the Maryville High School football team came to a premature end, the Spoofhounds are out for more.
Maryville’s season came to an end in the Class 3 state semi-final round with a 36-14 loss to Trinity Catholic. This year, the ‘Hounds will be competing in Class 2 for the first time in 10 years. The last time Maryville played in Class 2, they were state champions.
Entering this season, the Spoofhounds have to fill voids left by Eli Dowis and Tyler Houchin in the backfield. Both Dowis and Houchin are playing 1.6 miles north of Maryville High School for the Bearcats.
“I think what’s important about a new season is, yes, guys graduate, offensive production numbers graduate and move on but the exciting this is there is somebody always there to replace those yards,” coach Matt Webb said. “As a program, we talk about how ‘tradition never graduates’ … and when you have great tradition those numbers, whether that's offensive yards or defensive statistics, we don’t really look at who it is as far as, we have a system.”
While Maryville has positions to fill, junior Ben Walker returns for his second season at quarterback. Last season, the sophomore quarterback threw for 847 yards and 13 touchdowns with 39 completions.
“Ben has been in the system,” Webb said. “ … Ben is a young man that grew up in the system. As a seventh-grader, as an eighth-grader, as a freshman, as a sophomore last year starting, now being a junior the progression on things as he works through our offense is (good) but you always want to find room to improve.”
One of Walker’s targets is Tate Oglesby. In the jamboree, the duo found each other for a score three times in three scrimmages. The senior captain said the connection between him and his quarterback gives him assurance.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence,” Oglesby said. “We’ve been working all summer and now to the season. We want to be able to do it to open up the whole field. Obviously, if we get the ball rolling on the run, we can air it out. If we get the ball going in the air then it opens up lanes in the run and the rest of the offense. But obviously, we’ve got things to work.”
Confidence is a shared sentiment between Oglesby and his quarterback. Walker explained all the work they have been doing in the offseason has created a great relationship between him and his receivers.
“I have all the faith in them,” Walker said. “I can just throw it up really and they’ll come down with it. They are two great receivers, great route runners. We’ve been working for a while so we have good chemistry. I have all the faith in the world in those guys.”
In Oglesby’s junior campaign, the 6-foot-1 170-pound wide receiver pulled in 26 reception for 576 yards and seven touchdowns. Oglesby has received college offers from North Dakota, Augustana and Northwest. On the other side of Oglesby, the Spoofhounds have senior Deon Metezier. In limited action, Metezier caught six passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
“Obviously, when we have talented receivers like Tate and Deion and Caleb Krisenger and a good group of receivers we want to get the ball to our playmakers in every way possible,” Webb said. “ That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to throw the football a certain amount of times a game.”
Looking to get those touches in the backfield is a combination of guys. Seniors Tyler Haer, Aiden Cullen and Gaven Gray all saw significant time at running back during the jamboree.
“We’re going to run the football,” Webb said. “We have an identity. There’s a reason that playoff teams win football games in inclement weather, especially in northwest Missouri. (Most teams) when you get into the playoffs have an identity of running the football whether you’re talking state playoff contenders and things like that.”
Along with the two receivers and multiple runningbacks, the Spoofhounds return a great deal of experience on the offensive line as well. Senior guard Jackson Bram is one of the few returning from last year’s squad. Like former teammate Jalen Sundell, Bram has committed to play at North Dakota State after this season.
“It always starts up front and we’ve got a long tradition of having some very good offensive lineman,” Webb said. “ … It’s one of those things where it’s a comfort level knowing that coach Lessman, our offensive line coach and Matt Houchin is our offensive coordinator and those guys up front know that for any success we are going to have starts at the offensive line.”
During a three week stretch last season, Maryville didn’t allow a point during a three-game stint playing Harrisonville and conference opponents Chillicothe and St. Pius X. The ‘Hounds were able to outscore their opponents 139-0 during that span.
Upfront, Bram captains the defensive line while Oglesby and Metezier patrol the defensive backfield with junior Connor Weiss. Seniors Aiden Cullen and Gaven Gray secure the middle for the Spoofhound defense. Much like last year, Oglesby said the team demands a ruthless defense to go along with a high powered offense.
“We don’t expect anything less,” Oglesby said. “Coach expects us to do everything so we hold ourselves to a high standard. We just keep working.”