After facing a run oriented team last week in the Kirksville Tigers, the Boonville Pirates football team will now go up against a team that has already thrown for over 1,400 yards in six ballgames.
While the Pirates fell last week at home against the Tigers 36-7, the Fulton Hornets took an even bigger hit on the road against the Hannibal Pirates 61-32.
However, the Hornets will enter the game at 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the NCMC while Boonville comes in at 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the conference.
Despite losing by 29 against Hannibal on the road, Fulton head coach Pat Kelley said the Hornets had the game tied at 20-all with 54 seconds left in the half before giving up two touchdowns in less than a minute to trail at the break 34-20.
Of course it was all downhill after that, according to Kelley, as the Pirates came back with two more scores with 9 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 47-20.
“They scored four touchdowns in three minutes and we never had the ball,” Kelley said. “You can’t take out those three minutes but obviously we would like to. Our kids have battled back all year. We have been behind in every game this season. We were down 12-0 at the end of the first quarter against Hannibal and really thought we were going to go in at halftime tied. Obviously that didn’t happen and then we went through that little stretch where our kids fought back. We had almost 500 yards of offense and scored 32 points, so you think you would win a game, but we didn’t. We just couldn’t stop them and that’s the bottom line.”
Even in the loss to Hannibal, the Hornets still put up some impressive numbers against the Pirates.
Senior quarterback Joe Schlemeier completed 18 of 29 passes for 309 yards with one touchdown and one pick. Sophomore running back Travis Dean, meanwhile, rushed for 90 yards on nine carries and one touchdown while Kegan Lee had 74 yards on the ground and two scores.
Fulton also had three receivers in the game with 50 yards or more. Dean led all receivers with five catches for 121 yards while Chris Tilson added five catches for 97 yards and one score and Dalton Horstmeier with four catches and 64 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Cole Kettle led the Hornets with 14 solo stops and five assisted tackles while sophomore defensive lineman Clayton Bristol added six solo stops and three assisted tackles.
Boonville Pirates football coach Devin Brown said it’s pretty obvious that Fulton likes to throw the ball.
“They have two really good receivers on the edge,” Brown said. “They also have two good running backs, so they are going to be balanced as far as running and throw it. They also return their quarterback from last year and he is a big kid with a good arm. The offensive line does a good job at seal blocking and getting guys open and getting free so we have to play good on defense. We have to tackle, which we didn’t do last week. We have to be able to tackle them in open space because they have good athletes. If we don’t tackle they will get big plays on us.”
Page 2 of 4 - The Hornets are also close to hitting the 3,000 mark in total offense for the season. In six games, Fulton has 1,504 yards passing and another 1,134 rushing for a total of 2,638. That averages to 250.7 passing yards and 189 rushing yards per game this season. The Hornets have also scored 31 touchdowns.
Nonetheless, Coach Kelley believes his team is more run oriented than a passing team.
“We like to keep it balanced,” Kelley said. “We haven’t been able to throw the ball well and doing that we have been pretty balanced. We are still probably 60 percent run and 40 percent pass. I feel like in high school football that is a balanced offense so that is what we try to do.”
Kelley also feels like his team is still an unknown. With wins over Osage, Versailles, North Callaway and Marshall, the Hornets have also dropped games against Moberly and Hannibal.
“I think we are as good as we are on a given Friday night,” Kelley said. “We need to be more consistent really on both sides of the ball. We have done a much better job this year of taking care of the ball and limiting turnovers. As we keep going in this new format, we kind of break it down into thirds. The first-three games were non-conference games and the second three are really the big dogs of the conference. We came through that relatively healthy and now we have a three game stretch here where we play a team, Boonville, that is the only one we play from our district, so that makes it a pretty important ballgame.”
Of course nobody was more surprised by the outcome of last week’s game against Kirksville than Coach Brown.
While giving up over 400 yards in total offense and 36 points, Brown said he thinks it caught everybody by surprise, including the players on the sideline.“It’s just one of those things,” Brown said. “It was only 14-7 at the half and then we came out in the third quarter and it was just like the first quarter. We were just flat and had no energy. Of course we have been up and down like that all season. One week we are a little bit flat and not as good and then one week we are good. Contrast between Mexico and the Kirksville game and I think that says it right there. Friday against Fulton we have to come out and be ready to play.”
While the offense is the strength of the team this season for the Hornets, Brown said defensively Fulton will be back in their 4-4 type look. He said the same athletes play on both sides of the ball.
“They have good linebackers that are close to the line of scrimmage, but they also have some size up front,” Brown said. “Their corners are also skilled guys that can run, so we have to put drives together and get positive yards.”
Page 3 of 4 - The Pirates, who are 4-1 against Fulton since joining the NCMC back in 2008, have also outscored the Hornets 186-58 in that span. Fulton won the first meeting between the two teams in 2008 by a score of 14-12. However, it’s been Boonville ever since while winning 9-6 in 2009, 42-0 in 2010, 40-3 in 2011 and 47-21 and 48-28 in 2012.
Kelley said offensively the Pirates are big up front just like everybody else the Hornets have played this season.
“They have some good size up front,” Kelley said. “The quarterback handles the ball well and runs the offense well. They also have backs that run hard. We saw in the game against Mexico that it look like Boonville runs a little veer and did a real nice job of that.
“We tell the kids every week that we have to stop the run or at least slow it down and we haven’t done a good job of that the last-two weeks. We have given up huge chunks of yards rushing, so we have to do a better job of that and that is our top priority right now and that is trying to slow down the run against people.”
As for Boonville’s defense, Kelley said they will run a true 4-4. He said when you look at that again, you look at the big kids up front on the defensive line.
“They have two really big linemen down front that move really well and then the middle linebacker is a stud,” Kelley said. “He is a tackling machine and makes them go. We are going to have to get a hat on people and try to keep people blocked.”
It’s also no secret why the Hornets are much improved this season. Brown said these same players that are seniors also started three years ago as sophomores.
“These guys are the ones we played three years ago when they were sophomores and we were seniors,” Brown said. “When you play for three years you should be better because you have gotten a lot of game reps and practice reps and you have seen so much and done so much. Its one of those things where you should be playing well as a senior and that is what they are doing now sitting there at 4-2.”
While the seniors get a lot of the credit for the team’s success, Kelley said the Hornets have also been fortunate to have to really good receivers on the offensive side of the ball to go along with Schlemeier at quarterback.
For the season, Schlemeier has completed 78 of 134 passes for 1,414 yards with 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. Meanwhile, on the receiving end, Chris Tilson currently leads Fulton with 30 catches for 636 yards and five touchdowns while Dalton Horstmeier has 18 catches for 421 yards and five scores.
Page 4 of 4 - Of course the Hornets have also moved the ball on the ground this season. Going into Friday night’s game, Travis Dean leads the team in rushing yards with 62 carries for 554 yards and six touchdowns while Kegan Lee has 66 carries for 361 yards and five scores.
Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Cole Kettle leads the Hornets with 45 solo stops and 34 assisted tackles for a total of 79.
Kelley said the turnaround from last year to this year is that the kids have worked hard during the off-season.
“The majority of the seniors have started since they were sophomores,” Kelley said. “They have kind of hung together and battled. We are still fairly young in spots but the kids have played well and worked really hard this summer. I think the biggest thing is we were able to get a couple of wins and face some adversity and I think that has kind of helped us as we have gone through.”
Kelley said it is also hard to tell whether Friday night’s game is going to be high scoring or low scoring. He said every ballgame is different. “I think the team that runs the ball best is going to have some success,” Kelley said.
For the Boonville Pirates football team this season, senior quarterback Jacob Francis leads the team in both passing and rushing while completing 57 of 110 passes for 646 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions while rushing for 155 yards on 60 carries for two touchdowns. Junior Josh Judd, meanwhile, is the leading receiver with catches for 257 yards and one touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Pirates, senior middle linebacker Tyler Peterson has a total of 114 tackles on the season with 80 solo stops and 34 assisted tackles