The varsity football team Montgomery County hosted at the end of last month wasn't the same squad Van-Far played at last Friday.
Instead, Mark Twain took the lessons it learned on Sept. 29 in their loss at the Wildcats and applied them to the Indians. That approach might sound simple, but it worked as Van-Far fell behind 21-7 at halftime before losing this Eastern Missouri Conference contest 35-14.
"At the half we talked about the fact we were losing to a team that we should have been beating, and we weren't," said coach Kevin Baldwin. "We didn't play very well. There are two things in football you have to do to win the game. You have to tackle and you have to block. We didn't do either one very good."
Even though the Tigers came into this game with a record of 1-6 overall, they did begin the season by besting Milan on the road 28-14 according to maxpreps.com. That's when Avery Epperson and Jace Barton showed what they could do by scoring two touchdowns each. Making this duo's performance even more impressive is the fact Mark Twain's 36-man roster only features six seniors, so leadership qualities were at a premium for head coach Karl Asbury.
"Mark Twain has a good team. They are very well coached," Baldwin said. "They are definitely better than what their record indicated. They're a very physical team, and we generally are a very physical, but were were not on Friday. We didn't block, we didn't tackle and we didn't play very physical. When you play that way you're not going to win.
The reason for this defeat was several fold and included the fact the Indians had just lost to North Callaway 47-0 the week before. The Indians also now have to prepare to end the regular season this Friday in league play at home against South Callaway, none of which bodes well for this program considering it's lost four of its last five games after starting the season with a trio of consecutive victories.
"Anybody who knows football in this area knows South Callaway is one of the better teams. We've got a large task ahead of us," said Baldwin. "Given the fact we have not played very well the past couple weeks, this week the focus is going to be on not so much what South Callaway can do, but focusing on what we need to do to get better. We need to play up to our potential instead of worrying about what the other team is doing."
Van-Far's greatest threat to Mark Twain began in the second quarter when Parker Wallace scored a rushing touchdown for his teams first score of the game. Colten Jensen then returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown to make it a one-score game at 21-14, but as soon as Mark Twain got settled once again, the gap between these teams just kept growing until time expired.
"I told the kids when our season started that there were some games on our schedule that we were going to be expected to win, and there were some games on our schedule we were going to be expected not to win," Baldwin said. "We've lost a couple games that I expected us to win. To say that we're meeting our expectations, we're probably not at this point."