In their final scrimmage before opening the season at home on Sept. 28 against So. Boone, the North Callaway varsity football team travels Friday to Central Methodist University for a jamboree.
Also attending this event will be Fayette, which is the host and has been assigned to warm-up on the North end of the field by the scoreboard. The Thunderbirds will also warm up at CMU on the South end of the field.
Slater will also be playing in this event and will warm-up on the East end of the field at Fayette High School while Harrisburg gets ready on the West end. Despite the multiple locations being used so each team has an equal opportunity to prepare, the scrimmages will all take place at CMU with Fayette and Harrisburg occupying the West sideline in front of the press box and Slater and North Callaway setting up on the East sideline.
The Thunderbirds will then play all of its matchups on the South end starting with Slater followed by Fayette then Harrisburg. Going on at the North end at the same time will first be Fayette vs Harrisburg. Harrisburg then takes on Slater, which then wraps up the action by facing Fayette.
Last year Fayette went 6-5 overall according to maxpreps.com. While they did lose quarterback Robert Robinson and running back Tommy Phillips to graduation, Isiah Estes carried the ball 215 times in 2016 for 1,396 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore. The squad also managed 20 sacks, 10 interceptions and seven forced fumbles, so ball security and finishing blocks will both be keys to stopping the Fayette defense from imposing its will.
Harrisburg didn't faire quite as well a season ago and come in at 1-9 overall. Despite most of this teams losses last year being rather one-sided, its lone victory against Missouri Military Academy on the road on Sept. 23 was a shootout they slipped away with 44-42. This Jeckly-and-Hyde style of performance is about as erratic as they come, so North Callaway is going to have to be sure not to look past this program.
Slater also struggled last year with a record of 1-8 overall. Adding to the bad news for the Wildcats is they ended 2016 with a six-game losing streak that included being dismissed from the playoffs by Westran 48-6 on Oct. 21. The team also allowed 68 points at Orick on Oct. 14, on Sept. 30 at Lincoln it got outscored 60-6 and at El Dorado Springs on Sept. 16 this squad got spanked 76-0.
Because North Callaway went 7-3 overall last season, it has to be the favorite at this event. Victory isn't a foregone conclusion, though, which is at least partially because last year Tully Thomsen completed 1-of-4 passes for three yards and in 2017 he's the projected starter under center.
Also gone from the offensive backfield for the Thunderbirds because of graduation are Milo Henry, Wyatt Bannister, AJ Stubblefield and JT Higgins. That opens up opportunities for athletes like Mason Wortman, Jordan Delashmutt and D'Anthony Kemp, but only time will tell who actually shows up and who falls to the bottom of the rotation at each position.