Kirksville enters their homecoming game against Mexico as if they were looking into a mirror. They Bulldogs come in with an identical 2-4 record and having just snapped a losing streak with a breakout performance. Mexico took care of Warrenton, which while not in the NCMC, is in the same district as the Bulldogs and Tigers.
Kirksville ended their losing streak with a 31-point win at Boonville. The Tigers, who hadn’t tasted victory since Week 1, snapped the streak in style.
“I think we are more focused coming into this week. The win last week put everybody’s mind at ease that all the hard work and effort was paying off. That being said, we still have a tough opponent this Friday that we have to make sure we are prepared for,” said Kirksville head coach Jeff Jacques.
The Bulldogs have one win in the NCMC and the similarities with Kirksville continue. Mexico played Hannibal even tougher than the Tigers did falling short of the upset by just a point. They were able to squeak out a win over Marshall, while the Tigers lost by a single-point. If the win last week taught the Tigers anything it should be that any team is dangerous and can come in and win a game any Friday.
“This is again a game between two evenly matched teams. It will come down to who shows up. They have had some tough losses and some hard earned wins, like us they come in with a little lift in their step and feeling good about themselves,” said Jacques.
While the teams are similar when it comes to records and looking at the schedule, they go about things in a very different way. Mexico likes to use their big offensive line to run the ball with a pair of big running backs and work the clock. Since the turnaround performance in Week 3 against Marshall the most points a team has scored in a game involving the Bulldogs is just 22, the number they hung on Warrenton last week. In fact if you take out the Week 2 loss to California, the next highest point total for or against is just 26 by Lafayette in Week 1.
“We will have to challenge them from the ground and air to be successful. Whoever is able to play their style will have the advantage,” said Mexico head coach Ty Harrison.
That style could pose a problem for the Tigers.
“It’s going to come down to who can control the trenches. They have some big boys up front both on the offensive side and defensive side. It’s going to be a tough battle for our offensive and defensive lines, they are going to have to come to play,” said Jacques.
Page 2 of 2 - While the Bulldogs hold the size advantage, the Tigers seem to hold the edge in the speed department, so like always the Kirksville offensive success will come down to getting the ball to their playmakers in space.
“They are bigger than we are. That isn’t something we have come across. We are going to be the smaller team, but we are also going to be quicker, which means we have to get out in space and eliminate our mistakes inside,” said Jacques.
Having seen what the Tigers offense did to Boonville last week, and even to Hannibal prior to that, Harrison is aware of what speed the Tigers offense brings on to the field.
“We have no room for error against them. They are very athletic and talented, and they can make the big play, which always presents problems to a defense,” said Harrison.
Kirksville has seen their quarterback position evolve into a two-headed monster in the past few weeks. Tyler Osborn is more of the running threat, where as Makenna Cook is the passing threat. However, if you sleep on either one of them they are capable of hurting you with their secondary skills.
“It is tough to prepare for us. They each have some strengths and weaknesses, but one seems to be stronger where the other is not as good. From a defensive coordinator it is difficult to prepare for us, and when you throw in the mad scientist (Jason Melnick) at offensive coordinator it makes it even more tough,” said Jacques.
If the Bulldogs want to have success they will have to be sound fundamentally.
“To be successful we have to limit the big play and take care of the ball more than anything else,” said Harrison.
For the Tiger seniors they are looking to win their homecoming game for the first time in their careers.
“I think we are really good. We have had a great week of practice, it was big getting the monkey off our back and now we can kind of relax and know that we can play football and can win. We know we are going to have to step up and have a great football game,” said Jacques.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Spainhower Field.