It’s week two of the Missouri State High School Athletic Association football playoffs and for the second straight week, the Hannibal football team will be playing a conference rival in Marshall.
The Pirates (9-1) beat Mexico 42-0 last week while Marshall had a late lead against Moberly collapse. However, the Owls were able to pull out the 20-17 win in overtime to force a rematch of week 8. And like the Pirates rematch with Mexico, Hannibal will be hosting the Owls after playing on the road during the first meeting this year.
“Everybody calls that Marshall and Moberly game an upset, but I don’t,” St Clair said. “I have seen both teams and on film. Moberly is a good football team and so is Marshall. So I didn’t really consider that game an upset. I thought both teams were good enough to win that game.”
Marshall lost to Moberly in week 6 only to upset the higher seeded Spartans in the first round of the playoffs. The Owls (6-4) will come out ready for Hannibal and seeking revenge. No team wants to lose at this time of year, especially to a team that already beat them once.
And let’s not forget, this is the playoffs and anything can happen in a win or go home scenario.
“The kids know what it is,” St Clair said. “It is playoff time. It doesn’t matter what you call it, we are in the playoffs and it is win and you move on. The kids know that and they know what is at stake.”
During the regular season, Hannibal and Marshall went into halftime tied at 8-8, but the Pirates’ offense scored 20 second half points to earn the win. The win in week 8 gave Hannibal the North Central Missouri Conference championship.
“Obviously we know a little bit about (Marshall),” St Clair said. “Any time you play a team a second time, they know a little more about you and you know more about them. We will take a look at the changes we might need to make.”
The difference in this meeting is the time to prepare. During the regular season, the two teams had a full week to prep for the game. After Hannibal and Marshall both won on Friday night, the second round of the playoffs is on a Wednesday – not Friday.
“The only difference is we do very little hitting,” St Clair said. “Because of the short week and short time between games, we spend most of the time talking about schemes and checks and things we are going to do specifically for the team we are going to be facing.”
Hannibal will need all its players to step up and prepare for every possible scenario. The running game of Mitch Nichols and Caleb Bieniek that gained 207 yards against Marshall in week 8 will need to be ready for a team that has seen the Pirates play recently and knows what they are going to do.
The biggest key for Hannibal will be that of quarterback Dalton Powell. While Powell’s interceptions last week did not affect the outcome of the game, Powell and the Pirates saw firsthand what can happen if the Pirates’ lose the turnover battle like they did in Jefferson City in the loss to Helias.
“We need to take care of the ball,” St Clair said. “Every game in football, a big issue is turnovers. Every team wants to win the turnover battle and (today’s) game will be no different. We want to win the turnover battle and taking care of the ball is big issue, I don’t care if it is seventh grade or high school of the NFL. Turnovers are a factor.”
The winner of tonight’s game will face the winner of Helias and St. Dominic on Monday, Nov. 5 for the Class 4, District 6 championship.
Pirates to face Owls in 2nd round of MSHSAA playoffs