Tiger receivers Kaden Elliott and Preston Eckler had a big night during a loss to Wright City.

Breaking down Mark Twain's 41-21 loss at Wright City:

Mark Twain coach Karl Asbury was thrilled upon learning Kaden Elliott and Preston Eckler would be late additions to his squad this season.

Their performances Friday night proved why.

The pair of wideouts teamed up for 119 yards receiving from quarterback Lincoln Talbott, providing the Tigers a balanced offensive attack of 141 yards passing and 178 on the ground. 

While the offensive firepower went away in the second half as Wright City scored 21 unanswered points to win, the receiving duo helped the Tigers offense take a step in the right direction in the first half after Mark Twain was shut out by North Callaway the week before.

“They both decided to come out and play and we were pleased about that,” Asbury said of his emerging receivers, who came out for the team the day after the school year began. “We knew what kind of athletes they were. And we’re trying to get the ball to as many people as we can. If we can continue to be a little more well-rounded like that, it can help us open up other stuff.”

Elliott reeled in a deep reception that extended Mark Twain's first scoring drive of the night, which was capped by the first of two Jace Barton rushing touchdowns. Eckler then came down with a 30-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give the Tigers a halftime lead.

“Preston is a good athlete. He took the ball away from a defender and landed in the end zone,” Asbury said of the score. “It was a very good athletic play to help us keep the momentum going.” 

TRIAL BY FIRE

Six of the 12 Tiger defenders who recorded tackles Friday night are sophomores, indicating a new generation of talent who are gaining experience on the fly this season. Avery Epperson led the group of sophomores with 11 stops.

Asbury mentioned these rising starters benefitted from their time on the scout team as freshmen. However, nothing quite replicates in-game scenarios.

“They definitely learned by fire going against those guys like Terry Monroe and Caleb Hirner and the offensive line,” the coach said. “They jumped right in there. Now being sophomores, they get their taste.”

Wright City scored three touchdowns in each half Friday and put the game away with three deep passes in the second half.

“We’ve got to correct some things because Bowling Green is coming this Friday and they’re another team that likes to throw the ball around,” Asbury said. “We’ve got to correct this right away or it’s coming to come right back to us this coming week.”

PUMPED UP

Following disheartening losses to Hallsville and North Callaway by a combined 84 points, Mark Twain's performance at Wright City was a step in the right direction, according to Asbury. 

“We played better as a team. The last two weeks against North Callaway and Hallsville we just didn’t play very well, but Friday night reminded me a lot of Milan (in Week 1)," he said. "We came out, we had a lot of energy and played a lot better. That’s what we want to see. We want to keep making improvements like that instead of steps backward.”

THEY SAID IT

“We’ve got to start playing better at home. That’s two road games we’ve played pretty decent at, but we’ve kind of stunk it up at home the past two weeks. We’ve got to improve and look better at home.” – Mark Twain coach Karl Asbury