Many area high school football teams had mixed results in Friday’s week 1 matchups, including the Lincoln Cardinals and the Smith-Cotton Tigers.
The Cardinals returned to full time 11-man football with a bang, winning 50-21 at Rich Hill. The Tigers travelled more than two hours south of Sedalia and fell 22-7 to Republic.
“Our evaluation was that we came out kind of flat, but after that we were very proud and pleased of how the kids did,” said Smith-Cotton head coach Ryan Boyer. “We have a lot of new faces to the program and we’ve got kids who don’t have a ton of varsity experience.”
The Tigers fell behind 13-0, but junior quarterback Caleb Reed connected with junior Blake Jackson to pull within six.
“We got down early and they could have easily packed it in and called it quits,” Boyer said. “But they came together and we really stress to them to play our game.”
After an interception gave republic the ball at their own 3-yard line, they broke it open with a 97-yard score.
Boyer said penalties contributed to the lack of scoring for the Tigers.
“The penalties are the one thing I felt really hurt us,” he said. “It seemed like when we got going a little bit, penalties kind of set us back.”
As for the defense, Boyer said he was encouraged by the adjustments they made.
“We first came out and gave up two quick scores, but after that they settled in,” he said. “Early on we were over pursuing and missing our angles.”
The Smith-Cotton game was one of many in the area that kicked off late because of the excessive heat, but the Tigers still had issues dealing with the weather.
“We were really happy with the guys that stepped in because we had some guys go down with injuries and cramping and things like that,” Boyer said.
A few of the players Boyer said came off the bench are juniors Alex Carr, and Jake and Sam Kindle, and senior Tanner Proctor.
“You like to see that early in the season because it’s nice to know you have that depth and have those guys you can be able to count on,” Boyer said.
The Tigers will have their home opener against Marshall (0-1) on Friday.
The Lincoln Cardinals will open up Kaysinger Conference play Friday at home against Sacred Heart (0-1).
In week 1 at Rich Hill, the Cardinals rolled off 22 unanswered points after leading 28-21 at halftime.
“After that we really stepped up,” said Lincoln head coach Danny Morrison. “We didn’t allow another point the rest of the game. Our second half was really great by our defense. They just completely shut them down.”
Morrison credited the performance to staying ahead of Rich Hill’s defensive adjustments.
“We had passed a lot in the first half and they started adjusting to our pass and kind of started sitting back,” Morrison said. “In the second half we got that run game going and we started going to Heath Renno. He did a great job getting those yards and making those defensive backs come back in on a tighter coverage.”
Renno reached the end zone twice and ended up with more than 150 yards on the ground. Morrison said there are still some adjustments the offensive line can make and praised the defensive line for their ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage.
“We definitely saw some things that the offensive line needs to improve on,” he said. “We need to do a better job at getting to the backers and getting them taken care of to get our power runs to open up a little easier. Our defensive line was pressuring them all night long, which made a big impact on what we were doing. It seemed like we were in their backfield all night, especially in the second half.”
Something the 2014 Lincoln Cardinals have that previous teams didn’t is depth. The numbers are up, so they don’t have to play everyone on offense and defense.
“One of our defensive ends goes both ways, but other than that for our primary starters they just start on one side,” Morrison said. “That really helps, especially in heat like (Friday) night to be able to rest our guys. We do the same with our quarterback, running back and one of our primary receivers.”
Lincoln and Rich Hill kicked off at 8 p.m. because of the weather and Morrison said it made a big difference.
“By the time we started, the field was completely shaded,” he said. “They’ve got a good kind of tree canopy that surrounds their field, so it was nice. I’m saying it was cool, but at least we didn’t have the sun bearing down on us.”