MARYVILLE, Mo. — Connor Weiss made his return to Spoofhound football with a three touchdowns in 62-7 Maryville victory over Chillicothe.
While Weiss making big plays in a Spoofhound uniform is nothing new for Maryville fans, it wasn't the familiar No. 4 that they saw streaking down the field. Weiss wore No. 2 in the Senior Night game, the jersey of 3-year starting quarterback Ben Walker, who is out for the season following knee surgery.
Maryville head coach Matt Webb said Weiss approached him with the idea prior to the game and Webb approved.
“We talked about it before the game and I thought it was a great idea,” Webb said. “Connor is a senior captain, voted on by our team. These guys love each other. … I don't know if it is like that everywhere, but it sure is special here.
“It didn't surprise me at all because I know how tight-knit they are.”
For many of the Spoofhound seniors, they have been playing football together for over half their lives so Senior Night brings with it a lot of memories. Those memories were obvious when Walker's father, Bill, wheeled him down to the sideline for Senior Night recognition and the senior class gathered around its quarterback with emotions flowing.
“Before when we were doing the Senior Night honorary stuff, seeing him in that wheelchair was really depressing,” Weiss said. “He is our brother. We've played with him since the third grade and it is terrible not to be able to see him play. It is an honor to wear his jersey and play in honor of him, and ball out like I did with the team.”
Once the game started, the Spoofhounds quickly had to get serious as Chillicothe delivered the first punch and run the ball down the field, utilizing several quarterback sneaks, to take a 7-0 lead.
“Me and Trey (Houchin) got on our boys a little bit about trying to hit harder, be more physical,” Weiss said. “As soon as that flipped in our minds, we came out with better results.”
Webb credited Weiss and his defensive backs for making an impact in the running game.
“When its run, he'll fly down there and look like a water moccasin, wrap somebody up and have some big hits,” Webb said of Weiss. “Caleb (Kreizinger) had some big hits at safety. Obviously Matt (Goodridge) and Brady (Farnan) had some good run fits and did some good things. Having four seniors back there makes a difference.”
Maryville had the answer and plenty more. It started with the first offensive play of the game going to Weiss and him breaking off a 19-yard run. It is a moment that Weiss has spent two weeks waiting for.
During the Blair Oaks' game, Weiss messaged the Forum and declared that, “Week 3 (is) gonna be a show.” He fulfilled that promise on Friday.
Weiss capped the opening drive with a 21-yard touchdown.
“As soon as you get that ball, you just go,” Weiss said. “Following the lineman, following the blocks, it is just an amazing feeling.”
Maryville's defense adjusted from the opening drive and held Chillicothe to a 3-and-out. Maryville quickly went back down the field and an 18-yard pass from Connor Drake to Trey Houchin gave the team its first lead at 12-7.
Another Weiss touchdown, this one from 27 yards away, along with his 2-point run capped the first-half scoring as Maryville took a 20-7 lead into the break.
The Hounds got the ball first in the second half and Kade Wilmes got into the scoring column with a 9-yard run. Weiss tacked on two more points and Maryville took a 28-7 lead.
Senior Marc Gustafson recovered a fumble on the next drive, and Houchin added to the lead with a 19-yard scamper. Weiss kicked the extra point this time and Maryville was up 35-7.
Weiss added a receiving touchdown on a toss from Drake into the flat which Weiss took 23 yards for a 42-7 lead with 6:34 still to play in the third.
From there, the running clock was implemented, but Maryville was able to add to the lead with touchdown runs by Kyle Stuart, Adrian McGee and Clay Pritzel. Both Pritzel and Stuart were also in their first games back.
“That was a total-team victory tonight,” Webb said.
The offensive line was also boosted by the addition of Blake Casteel. Casteel's addition puts everyone else back in their normal positions. Houchin and Weiss each credited the o-line with their big nights.
“The line did their job. Everybody did their 1/11th,” Weiss said. “And we came out here and dominated. (That's) Spoofhound football.”
Weiss finished with eight carries for 138 yards and three total touchdowns. Houchin had 10 carries for 89 yards and Caden Stoecklein had six carries for 42 yards. The balance is something the Spoofhounds haven't had in recent weeks.
“You can take one thing away, but that opens up something else,” Webb said.
Defensively, another returning player Drew Spire led the team with 10 tackles.
With the celebration of Senior Night beginning the evening, the night wrapped up with the team singing 'Happy Birthday' to Webb.
“He is a great coach,” Houchin said. “Getting this win on his birthday, it is good.”