Ledger Sports Roundup 09/30/2022

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 10/1/22

Football

Mexico scores 54 in 54 Bowl, runs around Fulton

Mexico drove toward its destination and reached it many times Friday.

The Bulldogs repeatedly made trips to the endzone in a 54-7 win …

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Ledger Sports Roundup 09/30/2022

Posted

Football

Mexico scores 54 in 54 Bowl, runs around Fulton

Mexico drove toward its destination and reached it many times Friday.

The Bulldogs repeatedly made trips to the endzone in a 54-7 win against district and North Central Missouri Conference foe Fulton in the latest edition of the 54 Bowl, which Mexico has now won 11 straight times. The scoring output is a season-high and the most since the Bulldogs scored 60 at Warrenton the final week of last year’s regular season, and the 418 rushing yards is also a season-high.

Anthony Shivers ran for 197 yards and four touchdowns on 10 carries, scoring two of them from more than 50 yards out and three that were north of 20 yards. Jordan Shelton caught a touchdown pass and ran one on a reverse play, Andrew Runge scored 33 yards out up the middle, and freshman Drew DeMint ran in a score from 20 yards out after the second string entered the game in the fourth quarter. Morgan Grubb had two interceptions.

Shivers brings a speed dimension to Mexico’s offense, which is such a valuable weapon any given week, head coach Steve Haag said. He said Shivers likes to run north and south but has stressed that he can reach his destination if he goes east and west as well, which he did on all four of his touchdowns.

“The first thing is we got people blocking and staying on blocks and he gets out there, he doesn’t like to run east and west,” Haag said. “It bugs him, but we try to train him, ‘Get out there and then make your cut.’ Tonight, he did a heck of a job because he got east-west but then he planted and got north-south. Once he did that, it’s like he was attached to a joystick.”

Haag describes Shivers as a “feel good” runner as in he has some good runs, then he does better and better and can make defenders miss. He did that on a 62-yard touchdown, making several Hornets miss and breaking tackles along the way to make it 34-7 early in the third quarter at that point.

Prior to that, though, Mexico had to bottle Fulton’s offense and quarterback Walker Gohring. Gohring is a multi-sport athlete, playing baseball and basketball, but most importantly, was a wide receiver last year. Haag said this explains his mobility and how he can be slippery as Gohring seemed to be always on the run before finding a receiver open after plays broke down.

“He makes things happen,” Haag said. “If he can run around, that means the receivers can run around. Then you have to cover him longer and that just makes it harder on d-backs. We weren’t getting much pressure, and then when we did get pressure, we saw him run around and then he had to make some bad choices.”

Fulton tied Mexico at 7 in the first quarter after the Hornets capped a 13-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Walker Gohring pitching the ball to Rowdy Gohring to score on a fourth-and-two play.

The Hornets had another drive in the second quarter that went 13 plays but stalled after the Bulldogs pulled down Gohring for two sacks – Tyler Thoenen on one and Kendry Taylor and Daunte Cline on the other. After a Shivers 55-yard run made it 21-7 Mexico with two minutes left in the second quarter, Walker Gohring completed a 61-yard pass to Rowdy Gohring to bring Fulton to the red zone and would soon go for the end zone.

Gohring had his target in his sights with Matt McCurdy bearing down on him but found Grubb for a 61-yard interception return. Shivers was able to find the outside route for a 29-yard score and a 28-7 halftime lead. Haag said the Grubb interception was key in keeping Fulton out of the end zone and maintaining momentum for Mexico into the second half.

“When they scored, (Grubb) set under the wrong guy, and he picked up the wrong guy and the guy scored,” Haag said. “On that one, he picked up the right guy and he got that pick. He made that right adjustment there.”

Kirksville (3-3, 2-1 NCMC) visits for Mexico’s homecoming game Friday after losing 45-25 at home to Hannibal in Week 6. The Tigers won last year’s meeting 28-14 so Haag said none of the Bulldogs’ non-district opponents can be overlooked.

Crowned O’Neal bestows 5 touchdowns, 36-16 win vs Van-Far

It was a night North Callaway quarterback Braydn O’Neal won’t forget anytime soon.

At halftime, the senior was crowned homecoming king following his four touchdowns in the first half and finished the game with 208 yards and five touchdowns on 12-for-14 passing in a 36-16 victory against Van-Far. Sergio Moreno caught four of the touchdowns, finishing with six catches for a career-high 154 yards.

Head coach Kevin O’Neal said his quarterback had a big night and had his best night throwing the ball thanks to the game plan North Callaway had prepared for Van-Far.

“We wanted to spread it out, throw the ball a little bit more to get our passing game going,” O’Neal said. “He did a good job of reading the defense and making plays when we needed it. We had some coverages that Van-Far runs we thought we could take advantage of. They have a young man up front (Brandon Eoff) that is a pretty solid football player. We just felt like we could spread it out and throw it and be effective offensively there.”

Moreno was Braydn O’Neal’s favorite target again after catching 14 passes from O’Neal in the four games he played prior to Van-Far. He did sit against Louisiana a couple weeks prior because of injury, but Kevin O’Neal said the chemistry he has with his quarterback was on full display.

“He got back in last week and then this week started on offense,” O’Neal said. “Him and Braydn do a good job of understanding defenses and understanding what we want to do in our passing game.”

North Callaway (4-2, 3-1 EMO) travels to Wright City (4-2, 3-1 EMO), who lost 36-14 at Montgomery County in Week 6, on Friday as O’Neal said the Thunderbirds should their hands full.

Van-Far troubles on line difference in 36-16 loss at North Callaway

Van-Far didn’t have its best game at North Callaway.

In fact, head coach Lucas Gibson said the Indians’ 36-16 loss was their worst performance of the year but with correctable issues.

Van-Far finished with 210 yards on the ground on 45 carries. Nikos Connaway led the team with 89 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and Brandon Eoff gained 53 yards on 13 carries.

North Callaway quarterback Braydn O’Neal threw for 208 yards and five touchdowns on 12-for-14 passing. Gibson said two of the team’s lineman were unavailable Friday because of a wedding in Georgia so that affected Van-Far’s performance on offense and also when it came to pressuring O’Neal.

“They did a good job blocking us,” Gibson said. “He had a long time in the pocket to pick where he wanted to go.”

The second quarter was when the pressure subsided, Gibson said, as the first quarter was when the Indians could not only get to O’Neal but also force a turnover. Gage Gibson forced a fumble that was recovered by Tyrece Cole on North Callaway’s first drive. Van-Far didn’t score off the turnover but tied the game at 8 in the first quarter after a Nikos Connaway ran it from eight yards.

The Thunderbirds’ offense took flight, but Van-Far stayed grounded, completing one pass for 24 yards. The Indians scored its next touchdown on a Connaway five-yard run, but that was in the fourth quarter after O’Neal had thrown his fourth touchdown to Sergio Moreno.

Gibson said the team was affected by costly penalties, like a chop block erased a long run by Connaway and a pass interference on fourth down gave a North Callaway offensive drive new life, but the offense wasn’t at its best. Still, Van-Far had a closer result than last year’s 56-0 loss against the Thunderbirds.

“We plugged some guys in this week and tried to roll with it,” Gibson said. “We definitely struggled on offense a little bit. We executed some plays, and we didn’t turn the ball over. Nikos did throw one pick, but other than that, we didn’t turn the ball over. I think, last year, we turned the ball over a lot more. Taking care of the ball, that makes a lot of difference.”

Van-Far (1-5, 1-4 EMO) has a matchup this week at district for Crystal City (5-1), who lost 38-36 at undefeated Russellville in Week 6.

Centralia balanced in 28-18 win at Clark County

Centralia’s run game wasn’t as strong at Clark County, but that didn’t deter the Panthers.

In the Clarence Cannon Conference and district matchup, Centralia moved to 3-0 against district opponents this season with a 28-18 win against Clark County, despite running for 165 yards this week. The Panthers still had 334 yards of total offense – 30 more than the Indians – as quarterback Cullen Bennet threw for 165 yards and a touchdown on 8-for-14 passing, with three of those throws going for at least 20 yards.

Kyden Wilkerson was held below 100 yards for the first time this year but had 90 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Bennett and Breylen Whisler each ran for a touchdown after Centralia was down 12-7 at halftime.

Head coach Tyler Forsee said Clark County has some big kids on the defensive line and smart linebackers that are able to plug the running lanes.

“We had to really keep grinding there,” Forsee said. “They got some big D-line guys, and their linebackers do a good job with making their reads and finding the football. We had to sustain our blocks just a little bit longer.”

Centralia (5-1, 3-1 CCC) has its homecoming game Friday against Highland (1-5, 0-4 CCC), who lost 52-12 to South Shelby at home in Week 6.

Paris rearranges staff, loses 40-9 at Fayette

Paris head coach Joseph Utterback is proud of his team considering the week they had.

The Coyotes lost 40-9 on Friday at Lewis and Clark Conference foe Fayette after dealing with a shorter roster and some coaching changes. Utterback took over as the offensive line coach and delegated offensive coordinator responsibilities to Paul Turner, who was away this week after having a baby.

The former offensive lineman Utterback said the changes made sense as being the head coach and offensive coordinator is a lot of responsibility plus him taking over the offensive line frees up the defensive coordinator to focus more on the defense.

“I called a lot of my mentors a couple weeks ago,” Utterback said. “I was like, ‘I got this guy on staff that can do a really good job playcalling.’ Maybe I could delegate that to him and allow me to focus on the big picture. I feel like I coach O-line really well so let me do O-line. I felt like that was the best interest of our team.”

Just as Paris as a rebuilding program is figuring which spots players fit, the same applies to the coaching staff. Turner couldn’t be there because of his new family member so Utterback said Paris had to live by a saying he’s heard since he was a kid: “if this is the situation, what is the best we can do for it.”

Considering the voluntary rearranging as well as the involuntary in the form of players being injured, Utterback said his players not only gave up but were eager to play even when the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter.

“When you get the seniors looking at you saying, ‘Can I go in? I think we can put some points up the board,’” Utterback said. “Two minutes left and we’re throwing our JV in there, trying to get our JV offense pieced together, Drew Williams, one of our seniors, is looking at me going, ‘Coach can I stay in.’ I was like, ‘Man, I wish. We got to keep everybody healthy that we can.’ I also understand him wanting to just go out there and play football.”

Not long after that, sophomore Gatlin Fountain ran for an 89-yard touchdown to give Paris its first touchdown after Paris had a long field goal kicked by Gunnar Fountain in the first quarter.

Paris (1-5, 0-4 L&C) plays its homecoming game Friday against the undefeated Russellville (6-0), who defeated Crystal City 38-36 at home. The Indians’ program is in its third year.

MMA nagging injuries contribute to 42-6 loss at Clinton

Missouri Military Academy was far from full strength Friday night.

In a week the Colonels dressed 14 players, they lost 42-6 at Clinton in what was a battle of winless teams going into the night. The game had to be called in the third quarter, head coach Robert Rosenbaum said, as too many of MMA’s players sustained injuries.

Colton Kahle picked off Clinton (1-5) and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown but was taken out due to knee and head issues. Quarterback Gabriel Canonico will most likely enter concussion protocol after slamming down on the turf field. Defensive lineman Seydina Diop was out for the second straight week with an injury, and senior lineman Brett Miles has been dealing with a stinger in his neck.

Rosenbaum said this isn’t a comprehensive list but enough to show MMA’s roster has been in flux this season. One of the players that was injured Friday had just joined the team a few days ago.

“We were down a lot of bodies,” Rosenbaum said. “I felt like we gave the best effort we could. It was 42-6 and then we started taking substantial injuries. I had no other quarterbacks and we were down to 11 players. So probably 12 minutes into the third quarter, we got the kids off the field and called the game due to injuries.”

MMA continued to have its center problems, with the latest issue Friday night being the kid at center having to be moved to running back due to the roster shortage.

“We work on the (center) position tirelessly at practice, so the kids can do it,” Rosenbaum said. “For some reason, when they get under stress or they get in a game, they’re not always successful at it.”

MMA (0-6) plays at Principia (0-5), who lost 8-7 at Brentwood, this Friday.

Look for the full stories in the Oct. 5, 2022, edition of The Mexico Ledger and on the website on the same day.

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