The Marceline Tigers will face their greatest challenge in weeks this Friday when they head to Huntsville to face a 6-1 Westran team. If Marceline wins Friday night, they will be the outright Lewis and Clark champions, whereas a loss would likely cause a three-way conference tie.
"That's a rivalry for Marceline, it's a team that in the recent past has been successful," Marceline coach Greg Hough said. "Our kids know the Westran kids, so you've got that built-in excitement. It's a tough place to play. The conditions might be kind of mucky, and without practicing in much rain this year, that's a hard thing to simulate."
The Hornets have had more success offensively than they have on the other side of the football. The only two games in which Westran held its opponent to fewer than two touchdowns were against Salisbury in week one and Schuyler County last Friday.
In week eight of last season, Marceline racked up nine touchdowns against Westran. The Tigers were held to four in the district championship, but the Hornets scored only twice in both games.
Westran's biggest threat offensively is its quarterback. Junior signal caller Alex Young is the biggest component of the Hornets' diverse attack, as he has passed for 142 yards per game and rushed for 115 per. The Hornets' only other back with more than 150 yards rushing on the season is another junior by the name of Kaden Massey.
Young has two exceptional targets to whom he can sling the rock. Chris Evans, a returning all-stater, has already broken the 500-yard threshold receiving this season, and Hough says that his size and physicality is disconcerting for any opposing coach. Opposite him is Avery Hammond, entering the game with nearly 50 receiving yards per game, and standing at what the program lists as 6'4".
"We've got to know where those kids are out, and put pressure on the quarterback," Hough said. "Too many of their big plays come on him scrambling. Our defensive line is going to have to get a pass rush, we'll do some things differently and load the interior box. We feel like we have very good defensive backs, so when those kids play to their potential, we make good things happen. It's a focus thing for them."