For the Smith-Cotton football team through the first three games of the season, the third and fourth quarters have been a chance to shine.
S-C led Republic 21-0 and Marshall 17-7 at halftime and was tied 14-14 with Warrensburg. The Tigers outscored their opponents in the second half of each game on their way to 42-14, 41-14 and 35-23 wins. In the last two weeks alone, S-C has outscored teams 45-16 in the second half.
“It starts with our leadership,” said coach Ryan Boyer. “We stress every single week four quarters of football but four quarters of focus. Either way, you’re going to be out there for four quarters and we always tell them ‘the team that stays focused and that sticks to the game plan throughout and believes in what the game plan is, is the team that typically is at least going to have a chance or be victorious.’ These guys have done a great job with that.”
Quarterback Caleb Reed said a big part of that is that the team hasn’t been tiring out.
“We run a lot, straight conditioning and stuff like that,” he said.
Boyer said the team does not see conditioning as a punishment, but as a tool to help them improve and get through a strong 48 minutes of football each week.
Pleasant Hill comes in to Tiger Stadium on Friday. The Roosters are 0-3 after a 28-0 loss to Smithville week 1, a 39-13 loss to Warrensburg week 2 and a 28-8 loss to St. James of Lenexa, Kansas week 3.
“They’re a team that has improved each week,” Boyer said. “We’ve been able to watch them from week 1 all the way up to last week. They’re under a new head coach, new offensive system, so they’re working out the kinks there.”
Boyer sees the strength of the Roosters to be a very disciplined defense.
“They fly around and they create some things,” he said. “They’re pretty physical. It’s one where at any point in time we have a team coming in that’s looking for their first win, they think they have nothing to lose so I want to make sure that our kids stay focused and they’ve done a good job of that this week.”
The Roosters are expected to confront S-C with a base 4-4 using a high safety.
“I expect a lot of pressure, blitzing and stuff like that,” Reed said. “I think we’ll be fine.”
Trying to stop that blitz will be a Smith-Cotton offensive line which Reed said has been doing a great job giving him time in the pocket.
Smith-Cotton is currently No. 1 in the Class 5, District 6 standings with 49.34 points. Willard is three points back in second with Neosho third.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles