Pirates:NCMC title on the line

With a win tonight, the Hannibal High School football team will win its 14th conference championship and it’s first since 2010. To do that, the Pirates (7-0, 5-0 NCMC) will have to get past a tough Marshall team that has only one conference loss.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Marshall High School.
“One of our goals every year is to win the NCMC,” Hannibal coach Mark St Clair said. “A win Friday would secure that.”
With last week’s come from behind win over Moberly, the Pirates moved up to No. 4 in the most recent Class 4 state football rankings. But the rankings mean nothing to St Clair and the Pirates other than that the Pirates are still winning. Even as the Pirates remain undefeated, Hannibal’s play last week looked different in the first and second halves and St Clair made it known that the team needs to play all four quarters of the game to be successful.
“We are looking to put four quarters of football together Friday,” St Clair said. “The kids know what this game means.”
Hannibal normally uses an option style offense, but when the Pirates were unable to get it going last week, Hannibal moved to a more traditional style of run. Tonight, the success of the Pirates’ ground game will be a big factor in how they finish off conference play.
Quarterback Dalton Powell and running backs Mitch Nichols and Caleb Bieniek as well as Jahwaun Cassidy and Louis Burton will all take turns carrying the ball for Hannibal. As good as the run is, Powell will need to mix in the passing game early to keep the Marshall defense honest.
As good as the Pirates offense has been this year, when the Pirates might feel like they are facing themselves as Marshall (5-2, 3-1 NCMC) runs an offense and defense similar to its own.
“They look like us out on the field,” St Clair said. “They run the same look on offense with the split back option. They also run a four man front on defense similar to us at Hannibal. They have a talented quarterback that can throw but is most dangerous when he is running. Their offensive line is big and runs very well.”
Facing a team that plays the same style offense and defense as they do, the Pirates have known what they have had to work on during practice this week and St Clair has been pleased with the team’s effort during the week.
“The Pirates have had a very good week of practice getting ready for Marshall,” St Clair said. “Our practices have been physical and spirited.”