Hannibal (3-2, 2-1 NCMC) welcomes conference rival Fulton on Friday night for homecoming.
Kevin Campbell wants to reverse the Hannibal football team's trend at Porter Stadium this season.
After falling to Quincy Notre Dame and Mexico to open the home schedule, Hannibal welcomes North Central Missouri Conference rival Fulton on Friday night for its homecoming game.
The Pirates (3-2, 2-1 NCMC) are in search of their first 2017 home win.
"We’ve got two losses here at home our first two games,” the senior said. "We’ve got to pick up the pace and focus more on the game and not so much on the crowd and do our thing.”
Campbell came up with two fumble recoveries during a 34-7 win at Kirksville last week. The Pirates defense played its best game to date, allowing the Tigers just 71 yards of total offense and holding them to 1-of-9 on third and fourth downs.
"Those are the type of plays we’ve got to have,” Hannibal coach Mark St. Clair said of the forced turnovers. “Kevin is playing really well on defense. He’s come up big, and we need more people to take a little fire about playing defense. We were a lot better last week, and we need to continue to improve this week.”
Fulton (2-3, 1-1) is fresh off a 28-15 win over Marshall following a 35-0 loss to Moberly on Sept. 8.
Last Friday, Fulton senior Cameron Vaughn accounted for 70 yards passing and 137 yards rushing to go along with two touchdowns. The Hornets steamrolled the Owls with 313 yards on the ground at an average of six yards an attempt.
"The big challenge is that they’re extremely fast,” St. Clair said of Fulton. "Both sides of the ball, they’ve got people that can run, and not just one or two — they’ve got a whole team full of ‘em that run very well. That’s something we’ve got to contend with and make sure we’re not giving them a big play because they’re a big-play team. We’ve got to contain their speed and make them adjust to our game plan.”
St. Clair mentioned containing Vaughn will be a key to victory.
"He can throw, he can run and he can run the option. He’s most dangerous actually when the play breaks down,” the veteran coach noted.
Three Hornet receivers reeled in at least three receptions last week, led by senior Makaygh Galbreath’s six catches for 58 yards.
"They spread the field out pretty good,” assessed Campbell, a defensive back. "They’ve got a couple good wide receivers. Fast, quick off the ball. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t let any screens or anything crazy like that to allow a big play.”
Hannibal possesses a dual-threat offense of its own. Quarterback Gabe Worthington tossed three touchdowns last week, while five Hannibal ball carriers combined for 235 yards and two scores running the ball.
Seven Pirates have run for touchdowns this season.
"We still have a committee,” St. Clair said of his running backs. "(Senior) Billy Smashey (294 yards on 61 carries) has been a constant back there all five weeks running the ball, but the biggest thing about him is he’s going to block and do all the extra stuff we need him to do.”
The Pirates offensive line has seen its fair share of shuffling this season, leading St. Clair to call it “a work in progress.” But the coach noted they’re getting off the ball better each week, aided by the emergence of senior Colton Sanders.
“The most improved player right now would be Colton Sanders,” St. Clair said. "He’s stepped into that left tackle spot and done a nice job, and he gets better every week. In fact, he had his best game last week.”
Homecoming makes this week different that any other for the Pirates, starting with a downtown parade Wednesday night and continuing with the announcement of the king and queen under the lights Friday. Add the blistering heat to the equation, and the lead-up to this game has been anything but normal for St. Clair’s squad.
Yet the Pirates, who topped the Hornets 75-22 a year ago, are confident about earning another victory this time around.
"There are some distractions if you let it be distracting, but it’s all meant for a little bit of school spirit and pride, so that’s all a good thing,” St. Clair said of homecoming. "We just need to understand that we’re there to play a football game and be ready."