Following some preseason hype about what could hold in store for the football Spartans in 2013 and after their 30-point victory against a very good Class 2 Blair Oaks program during the season opener, Moberly was rewarded this week in the media’s prep football poll with a No. 8 state ranking among Class 4 schools.
Come Friday night when the Spartans make a journey to the Lake of the Ozarks area at Kaiser, Moberly will be looking for its fifth win against Class 3 Osage of the Osage Indians since the two schools first met back in 2006.
Last fall these two teams dealt with the rainy remnants of Hurricane Isaac on a mud-soaked field here in Moberly. The Spartans were facing a 4th-and-11 situation at the Indians’ 16 with less than 3 minutes remaining when quarterback Justin Connaway orchestrated a fake-hitch screen pass connecting with senior Brandon Elkins that went for a touchdown, and Moberly persevered winning 20-12 against Osage.
“While we are not long-standing conference rivals, we have engaged in some epic battles with Osage since they recently have become part of our non-conference schedule. Two of them I’ll remember have been fought in a mud bath, once at their place and last year at our place,” said Spartans football coach Jason Ambroson.
In its Aug. 30 season opener, Osage fell behind Fulton 21-0 at the half when the Indians made the right adjustments to score 22 unanswered points against their host, but a late score by the Hornets dealt Osage a tough 28-22 loss.
Dan Henderson returns for his 8th season as Osage head coach (46-27) and he has 21 returning lettermen, including six offensive starters and seven on defense.
School of the Osage is coming off a 7-5 season a year ago with a program filled with younger and more inexperienced players at the varsity level.
Junior Austin Riley steps in to serve as starting quarterback after Osage’s all-state signal caller Bo Dean moved across town where he is playing out his senior year at Camdenton High School.
“Osage historically has been a good football program. Our meetings with them have always been very physical, and I expect nothing less in Friday’s game,” Ambroson said. “Size-wise, Osage matches up pretty well with us at the line of scrimmage. They have some really good weapons on the offensive side, especially at the receiver positions. The Jeffries kid caught 80-plus passes for them last year. He is extremely talented and they will look to give him the ball often. We need to be cognizant where he is on the field.”
Senior receiver Dylan Jeffries (6’0, 185) likely will be Riley’s favorite target along with junior Collin Samuelson (6’3, 180).
Jeffries caught 83 passes for 1,200 yards, and Samuelson had 45 receptions that netted about 600 yards last fall.
Page 2 of 3 - “Osage likes to go no-huddle and will really want to pick up the pace of the game as much as possible,” said Ambroson. “Defensively they like to be aggressive and really come after you. They like to play their safeties high and get them involved in the game.”
After reviewing Week 1’s game film against Blair Oaks, Ambroson and his coaching staff were able to critically dissect the pluses and minuses that the Spartans absorbed.
In doing so, this information has become valuable tools in knowing what areas of its game that needs to be fine-tuned during practice workouts and also put ingredients into place for a winning recipe of success when Moberly meets Osage tomorrow night.
Here are a few things Ambroson learned from the Spartans 48-18 win against the Falcons on Aug. 30.
“The two things that stand out in my mind about our first game was how well our team prepared, and they made the plays that needed to be done. Blair Oaks is such a high-caliber football program at so many levels. Our kids came out and did what was asked of them in practice, and they were well prepared when they stepped onto the football field. We did a very good job of not giving up the big plays, and that was huge. Last year Blair Oaks threw about 18 deep passes against us, and burned us a few times. They were a team that beat a lot of people using the deep pass.”
“A second thing that was very big is that we made plays in some very critical situations. We made plays on a lot of third down situations needing some long yardage, and also a fourth down conversion. A lot of that came from some individual effort, including our quarterback play. The same things happened with our defense. There were times when Blair Oaks was moving the ball well when twice we made the play to stall them, and we came up with a big interception and a couple of fumble recoveries. We had kids who made plays at very opportune times. I thought our kids handled things quite well, especially for a first football game and all.”
Work In Progress
“What we really need to improve upon as a team is to get rid of stupid penalties. We had a lot of illegal motions, we did not get lined up properly and there were a couple of holding penalties. We stopped ourselves in some situations and I believe penalties stopped us from having three more scoring opportunities against Blair Oaks.”
Page 3 of 3 - “Granted this was Week 1, but as we get farther into the season teams are going to give you something different every week. Every team, including us, does it. But we need to make sure we line up accordingly to things we worked on in practice properly, getting people to where they are suppose to be and that they understand where our eyes are suppose to be and not get caught watching the windows dry so to speak. We need to be ready to walk through the door and be right there and available.”
“Second of all, defensively we need to get aligned, knowing our assignment o every snap. After looking at game film, you could see on the plays we did not align up right, we got beat and during times that we did were successful. Overall on both sides of the ball our pad-level needs to get a lot better. We need to get a lot lower and play a lot faster in those two dimensions. That is what we will work on this week.”