Senior Night this Friday here at Dr. Larry K. Noel Spartans Stadium could be much more memorable for the 12 Moberly football upperclassmen that will be playing their final regular season home game before family and friends if the 2012 Spartans can accomplish what no other program has been able to do.
And that is to sink the Pirates ship of Boonville in Week 8.
Since Boonville joined the North Central Missouri Conference in 2008 and became a regular fixture on Moberly’s football schedule, the final outcome has been fewer than two touchdowns during each close battle but the Spartans have never been victorious.
Last year Moberly yielded three turnovers, one of which led to the game’s only score (INT returned about 29 yards), in a 7-0 defeat to Boonville. That particular win by the Pirates awarded Boonville the NCMC football championship.
“Boonville is a football team that have yet to beat. That should motivate our football team to change that this Friday. Our games with them have been pretty darn close. The last two years the difference of the score between us has been no more than one touchdown,” said Moberly football coach Jason Ambroson. “Two years ago Boonville beat us with just like 21 seconds left on a fourth-and-2 situation near the goal line, and last year we held them to 77 yards of offense but turned the ball over three times to them. Two of those turnovers stopped scoring drives when we got close to the end zone and the other one led to Boonville scoring a touchdown.”
“Our games with Boonville are not good ones to remember. That needs to change and I hope it begins this Friday. I’m giving credit to Boonville and not down playing them at all. I see this game as a must win situation for our football team, and we need a great effort from our kids.”
Boonville (4-3, 3-1 NCMC) is coming off a 47-21 win against Fulton in Week 7 under second year head coach Devin Brown.
The Pirates generated nearly 500 yards of offense, with 402 come from the ground attack in their game with the Hornets.
With the numbers collected against Fulton, Boonville is averaging about 252 rushing yards per game and about 60 yards passing this season. Meanwhile, the Moberly Spartans (5-2, 3-1 NCMC) have been generating about 344 yards of offense per outing with 206 coming from its ground attack.
The Pirates O-line weight average is about 230-pounds, helping senior runningback Kelsey Callaway and junior co-quarterback Jacob Francis become the team’s leading rushers with 736 and 477 yds. respectively.
Three other ball carriers have at least 150 rushing yards, including senior Jared Oser - who shares quarterback duties - having 187.
In the passing game, Francis has thrown for 226 yards (21-53, 2 TDs, 4 INTs) and Oser has 162 yards (10-17). Their favorite target has been senior Damario Walker who leads the team in receptions with 22.
Last week Moberly surprised perennial conference powerhouse Hannibal by going into halftime with a 9-0 lead. But the Class 4 fifth-ranked program’s speed across the field scored 27 points in the third quarter and rallied to defeat the Spartans 34-22.
Following that game Spartans football coach Jason Ambroson thought his team executed its game plan well, and all season he has praised team discipline.
Junior Justin Connaway has emerged to become an efficient quarterback, completing 60-percent of his passes (96-159) for 956 yards, 8 TDs and 3 interceptions. He also has run the football 59 times for 389 yards this season.
Connaway has distributed the football through the air to eight different receivers. Brandon Elkins leads the corps in catches with 33 for 262 yards while Blake Joiner has covered more real estate with 361 yards from his 28 receptions.
Senior runningback Joe Galaske and sophomore Gregg Bain are posting similar rushing numbers to pace the offense. Galaske has been handed the football 91 times for 480 yards while Bain has carried the load 76 times for 424.
All-state junior OLB/TE Colton Tremain and junior lineman Jeff Kinder are at the top of the leader board in team tackles having 65 and 60 respectively. Tremain has five sacks and 14 quarterback pressures to his name, while Kinder has forced 4 fumbles and has hurried the opposing quarterback nine times and Kinder also has three sacks. Senior linebacker Ricky Webb has 49 total tackles, and Elkins has 43 along with three INTs.
Moberly’s defensive unit has 21 takeaways, while the offense has had just seven turnovers this season.
Coach Ambroson was asked to play the role of school teacher and hand out grades for each of the three phases of Spartans football following Moberly’s game with Hannibal.
Here is his reply.
“I don’t think one can come out and grade a football team for any given game because there are too many different variables involved from week to week. There are changes based upon the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. Also, I believe football is a sport that is completely fluid and what I mean by that you have take into account player injuries or other issues pertaining to player personnel, match ups, field conditions including whether it’s grass or turf and whether it is home vs. away along with time travel. You have weather elements to consider. Game expectations and values can change from week to week too.”
“I feel that I can maybe assign a grade to areas of our football team only after a game is done because I would have to look more at the complete picture of all the things happening that leads up to the game itself. This would include how our coaching staff prepares a game plan to the kids reading that material and understand what needs to be done, and then put that plan to work during practices every day and dealing with all the extra things that may happen on and off the field until first kickoff of the game. Also, there is the game itself and all that takes place on the football field, and also watching game film afterwards to better see things that actually happened but may have went unnoticed while you’re watching the game live.”
“Obviously, when you might win a football game does not necessarily mean a team would get a letter grade of A or A- or if you lose you get a lower grade. Looking back with our game against Hannibal, I would give our football team an A- probably because I thought we played really well and we did a lot of things right against a really, really good football team. In our homecoming win against Marshall, I might give our team a B because we did not play very well in the first half.”