HANNIBAL – The last time the Hannibal football team played outside of North Central Missouri Conference play, the Pirates were still looking for their identity.
They believe they've found it now, and want to prove that in the regular season finale against Columbia Battle.
“We're at a point now that we have to execute or adjust to it,” Hannibal football coach Quentin Hamner said. “It's our job to play four quarters and we've played really good four quarters against teams like Marshall and Moberly. But these are different styles of games now.”
Another victory could nearly ensure Hannibal will be the top seed in its Class 4 district bracket and have homefield advantage throughout districts.
“Either way, we'll be fine,” Hamner said. “But we want to establish the momentum we've created.”
That momentum has come from a five-game winning streak and a NCMC championship. An improvement on both sides of the ball has led to that.
Hannibal is averaging 50 points per game in its last five games, while allowing just 18.6 points per game. In the first three games, Hannibal managed just 12 points and allowed no fewer than 25 in its first three losses. Those setbacks came against Helias, Jefferson City and Bolivar.
The Pirates have made that happen by controlling the line of scrimmage on offense and defense. Hannibal will need that to continue against Battle. The Spartans have split their last four games, but are averaging 60.5 points per game in their last two victories.
One of those victories was a 54-35 contest against Jefferson City, which defeated Hannibal in Week 2 at Porter Stadium.
“It's going to be a line of scrimmage game,” Hamner said. “Whoever can control that and limit the big plays is going to win this game.”
The Pirates know the stakes aren't necessarily high, but can still have takeaways before district play begins.
“Whether it's a win or loss, we just need a measuring stick,” Hamner said. “If it's in our favor, that's great. But if not, then it's a measuring stick, and we go from there.”