MARYVILLE, Mo. — For weeks, many observers had a potential Odessa/Maryville state quarterfinal game circled on the calendar — this sportswriter included.
Almost immediately after the loss at Odessa earlier this season, Maryville coach Matt Webb began referring to the game as a turning point in the season for the Hounds. He and the team never mentioned the possibility of a rematch, but it was clearly there.
That was until the No. 3 ranked Bulldogs had to forfeit their district championship game against Summit Christian Academy due to COVID-19. The forfeit knocks the highest ranked team from Maryville’s half of the bracket.
Just because Odessa’s season is over doesn’t mean the Hounds have an easy path into the state semifinals though. Summit Christian (9-3) is very familiar with this round of the state playoffs.
“They are a very dynamic offense,” Webb said. “They can really score a lot of points. They are very well-versed in their spread offense.”
This season marks the fourth season in five seasons where the Eagles have won their district championship. They will be trying to get over the state quarterfinal hump for the first time though on Saturday.
As a Class 2 team the past two seasons, Summit Christian has had its season ended in the state quarterfinals by Lathrop. Last season it was by a 38-6 margin and the season before it was a 41-14 result. Lawson knocked the Eagles from the playoffs four years ago 35-19.
The Eagles hope this season will be different as they welcome Maryville to Kansas City. A big reason for that hope and the success they’ve enjoyed is Summit Christian’s spread offense.
Senior quarterback Grayson Sprouse leads the Eagle attack and has thrown for 2,130 yards this season with a 57 percent completion rate, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Sprouse is also a dangerous runner with 17 touchdowns and 530 yards on the ground.
“Their quarterback is very good at running their spread offense,” Webb said. “He is a big kid. He is 6-4, 215.”
While Sprouse is a threat on the ground, senior running back Lucas Eckles has 866 yards and nine touchdowns this year. Eckles averaged 8.6 yards per carry this season and also has a kick-return touchdown.
In the passing game, it’s another senior who leads the way with Griffin Kliewer’s 728 yards and seven touchdowns. While Kliewer is the top target, Sprouse also has a security blanket in the slot with his little brother Lincoln Sprouse. The junior has 485 yards and three touchdowns.
“Their receiving corps is the best receiving corps we’ve seen all season as a whole,” Webb said. “They are tall and they are great route runners with really good hands.”
While the Spoofhound defense has the spread offense to contend with, the Eagle defense will have to battle with the Spoofhounds’ smash-mouth offense and an offensive line playing some of its best ball of the season.
“I think they are playing their best football right now,” Webb said of the offensive line. “They just do a good job of practice and executing. That is a credit to coach (Ryan) Lessman and getting that group to gel and come together throughout the season. We replaced some really good players last year in Jackson Bram, Tallon Noland and Jeff Stooksbury.
“These guys have really come together and made their mark as one of those traditional offensive lines that the Spoofhounds have that we can rely on. I think our backs will be the first to tell you that they are loving the holes that they are getting.”
The game will kickoff at 1 p.m., on Saturday at Lee’s Summit High School. The winner will face the winner of Buffalo and Cassville, which will be played at the same time.