The Richmond Spartans faced this same type of scenario last year. After splitting their first two District 14 contests Richmond entered its final regular season game needing a win over Moberly, but lost to the eventual district champions 33-12.
Once again Richmond, with its 5-4 overall record, has split its first two district contests, and this year travels to Moberly with a possible postseason berth on the line. Moberly, 4-5 overall, has dropped its two district games 28-19 to Boonville and last week saw Odessa beat up on them 42-6 after jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead.
Heading into this year’s battle of the Spartans, Richmond appears more prepared to handle the situation.
“We’re better,” Richmond Coach Rob Bowers said. “I think that gives us more confidence. At this point we can be a good football team when we play like we’re capable of. The kids know that and I think that helps their confidence. It’s all on our shoulders. If we go out and play like we’re capable of playing, we have the potential to beat Moberly.”
This year’s version of the Moberly Spartans is somewhat similar to last year’s team that won district before being eliminated by Holden in the first round of the Class 3 playoffs.
Moberly still likes to use a balanced attack, but the passing game has been somewhat slowed the last few weeks due to quarterback Kris Cupp’s absence from the lineup. Cupp underwent an appendectomy three weeks ago. His availability for Friday night is unknown.
The ground game is led by Trevor Logan, who rushed for 1,000 yards last season, and has compiled over 700 this season with 8 touchdowns. Leading receiver Chris Ewens has 35 catches for nearly 450 yards.
“They can throw the ball pretty well, their running back was a 1,000-yard rusher from last year and they are big up front, probably the biggest we’ve faced this year,” Bowers said. “It will be a challenge because when you have to defend both, that makes it a lot harder. We need to win the battle along the line, run to the football and tackle.”
It has been the Richmond defense leading the way the past few weeks. After giving up 46 points in a loss to Higginsville, the Spartan defense has shut down the opposing offenses. After the loss to the Huskers, Richmond made a few changes to the defense and has won three of its last four games with the defense playing a major role.
“We kind of had a meltdown defensively against Higginsville,” Bowers explained. “We misaligned, didn’t run to the ball and just did several of the Cardinal sins of defense. Since then we have gotten that corrected and we’re doing a better job of lining up correctly. The kids are running to the football and just playing more aggressive.”
Richmond has allowed just 136.5 yards and 5.5 points a game in the last four contests. Bowers called last Friday’s performance of allowing just 70 yards to Boonville the best defensive effort in a number of years. The Pirates never made it past midfield against the Richmond defenders.
Richmond’s lone loss in the last four games came when the Spartans lost the turnover battle to Odessa 3-0. In the three victories Richmond has a total of 11 takeaways and 8 turnovers.
“Defensively if we play hard, that creates some opportunities for us and we’d like to keep the turnover string going and get a couple more,” Bowers said. “If we can do that, I think our defense will be in good shape.”
Bowers added that the key for his team’s success on defense the last few games is that they have played well along the line, and the linebackers have done a good job of filling the gaps.
PHOTO: Richmond defenders Kyle Carroll (7), Ty Tweedie (4) and Colby Bowles (10) get ready to jump on a Boonville fumble early in the Spartans’ 18-7 victory over the Pirates. Richmond took advantage of the turnover that led to the first score of the night. (Photo by Russ Green/The Daily News.)