MARYVILLE, Mo. — Unless you know what you are looking at, the prize for winning Savannah-Maryville football game looks like it is more likely to be found in a scrap yard than in the middle of a celebration.
The beat-up, old highway sign represents a lot more than a hunk of medal to the communities that will play for it this Friday night in Savannah.
“Most of the time when people think about a trophy, they think of something big a shiny and something you put in a display case and is a beautiful-looking thing,” Maryville coach Matt Webb said. “This 71 trophy is an old highway sign from before I got here. It is kind of beat up, got some writing on it.
“It doesn’t look too pretty, but it might be the thing these two football programs take the most pride in.”
Beyond the rivalry and bragging rights, Friday’s game is a clash between two of the top 3 teams in the MEC and will be a big factor in each teams’ district race. Maryville (4-3, 2-1 MEC) currently second in Class 3, District 8, and Savannah (4-1, 3-0 MEC) is currently third in Class 4, District 8.
“Any time it is a rivalry game, throw those records out the window,” Webb said. “You say, ‘Hey, we grew up playing against these kids in little league baseball and travel basketball.’ … It is a lot of fun. It is a rivalry game so it is important.”
With St. Pius X also undefeated in the MEC and the Savannah-St. Pius X game on tap for next week, Savannah needs to beat Maryville to keep pace. For Maryville to get a share of the conference, they need to beat Savannah and then have Savannah beat St. Pius X.
Beating Savannah this week will come down to winning in the trenches. Webb likes the improvement he has seen from his offensive line recently.
“I think our offensive line is getting better and really improved these last two weeks on executing,” Webb said.
Savannah’s offense is led by senior running back Evan Yount. Through five games, Yount is averaging over 200 yards a game.
Yount has rushed for 1,016 yards on 106 carries with 13 touchdowns. Webb says Yount’s speed is what stands out to him on tape.
“He is very fast,” Webb said. “If you let him into the open field, he can fly. I think that is the challenge. They are very big up front, probably the biggest offensive line we’ve played across the board.
“They are all as big as Lincoln College Prep, but they are a little — they are strong. When you have a back who can get a seam behind that big offensive line, he can take it the distance.”
With a regular season that includes just two home games, Maryville’s trip to Savannah is the shortest road trip of the season and after tests the last two week’s from top-5 teams, Webb feels his team is ready for the rivalry challenge.
“Two weeks ago, when we didn’t have an opponent and we found an opponent in Odessa, our team kind of adopted an attitude that we are going to go all in,” Webb said. “We are going to have the defending Class 3 state champs and then we are going to play three Class 4 teams to finish our regular season.”