The Marceline football team is bound for Mokane to face a 6-6 team, South Callaway, in the quarterfinal on Saturday.
The Bulldogs entered district play just 3-6, but Marceline head coach Mark Ross doesn't believe that the sub-par record tells the whole story.
"Their record is very deceiving at 6-6," Ross said. "They've played some bigger schools, and they've been competitive in those games, and that makes looking at their record a little tricky. This is a quality ball club, and they've been in some good games that they haven't been able to finish."
Marceline is forced to travel instead of hosting because South Callaway had yet to host a postseason game. Had Brentwood defeated the Bulldogs in the District 6 championship last Friday, Marceline would have hosted because Brentwood also had yet to play on the road.
As simple and perhaps beneficial as it would have been for the Tigers to have another home game, the facilities in Mokane are superb. Recently installed turf and giant LED screen for replays seem to be just a few of the amenities that the South Callaway boosters have furnished.
Ross said that he expects to see some similar schemes to what he saw Sweet Springs do last Friday in the district championship.
"We're going to see some split-back veer, and we have to make sure we keep everything read and stay sound on our assignments," Ross said. "They've only thrown the ball seven times in the past two ballgames, but keeping our guys awake in the secondary is going to be crucial. If we can avoid giving up long drives and stop the big play, we'll put ourselves in a position to be successful. We know they'll move the ball a little bit, we just need well-timed big plays."
Ross said that South Callaway presented a balanced attack, and any given one of its backs could have a big day. He didn't feel like there was one specific Bulldog his team should be keying in on, and as long as his team sticks to its assignments, the Tigers will be in a good spot.
South Callaway is averaging 31 points per game, but has allowed 202 points more than Marceline has allowed on the season.
"When we have the ball, like always, we just have to do a good job of getting our kids the ball out in space," Ross said. "The past couple of weeks, as better and better teams start to key in on (senior back Cullen Bruner), and we've had to diversify our attack a little bit. We kind of make our determination based on game flow, but the more athletes we can get the ball to in dynamic ways, the more dangerous we are."
Sweet Springs actually produced more offense than Marceline did in last Friday's 23-14 Tiger victory. Sweet Springs gained 301 yards to the Tigers' 240, but Ross said winning the battle for field position on special teams was the key difference.