The Tigers want to announce their presence to the NCMC this season
Kirksville enters Week 5 looking for their fist NCMC win and needing to do so against Hannibal, who has been in and out the Class 4 State Rankings all season, and who at one point was as high as No. 5.
The Tigers are still in search of their first conference win after dropping a one-point game last week at Marshall. The Owls dominated the first half and held on for dear life in the second. KHS was playing without starting quarterback and all-conference linebacker Makenna Cook. Cook will be back in the line up for the Tigers on Friday night.
“We just didn’t come ready to play from the get go. I knew they were a good football team. We made the adjustment in the second half and played well,” said Kirksville head coach Jeff Jacques.
The halftime adjustments weren’t the “X” and “O” adjustments one might think.
“We didn’t really change anything schematically. The kids just needed to put forth more effort and play to their ability and they did that. I was very proud of the finish, I just wish they would have started that way,” said Jacques.
Kirksville enters their third conference game feeling as though they should be able to compete. They played toe-to-toe with Moberly for the majority of four quarters. They came within a single point of beating Marshall. The Owls were coming off a Week 4 loss to Mexico, 14-7. The Bulldogs pushed the Pirates to the brink last week before falling, like Kirksville by a single point, 21-20.
The NCMC is proving to be a conference of parity.
“That is the NCMC every year. It is normally a wide-open conference and that is the same thing again this year. We just need to control what we can control and that’s putting forward our best effort every Friday night,” said Jacques.
The Pirates fell from the state rankings after their narrow escape over Mexico. They had been fairly dominant in weeks two and three beating, Battle High School and Boonville. Their lone loss came in Week 1, 17-6, against Quincy Notre Dame. If the Tigers can play their game and put together the pieces from past weeks they feel like that will go a long way to letting people know the Tigers on back on the prowl.
“We are hoping to make a statement. We haven’t been able to make the statement completely. First half against Moberly we played really well, and the second half against Marshall we played really well. We need to come out and put a complete game together,” said Jacques.
Game planning for a team that has been inside the top five can be difficult since there are no obvious areas to go after.
“We just need to continue work towards our strengths of running the football and getting our playmakers out in space. Hannibal is a really good team and doesn’t really have any glaring weakness,” Jacques.
The Pirates are trying to prepare for a different looking Kirksville team than they have seen in the past.
“They haven’t really been that fast in the past, but they have really got a lot of speed in their backfield right now and they are playing with quite a bit of enthusiasm,” said Hannibal head coach Mark St. Clair.
For Kirksville playing with Hannibal brings two different challenges. One, they have to be ready for the speed they have along the outside. Two, they have to match the Pirates’ intensity and strength inside to avoid being pushed around.
“They are physical and are going to attack both of our lines of scrimmage. Our defensive line needs to come out ready to play. If we can control the trenches we can control the football game,” said Jacques.
Although the NCMC is somewhat of an even conference, the Tiger’s schedule gets dramatically easier after Friday. Boonville and Mexico both enter Week 5 at 1-3.
Fulton enters 3-1, but that one loss was to Moberly and the Hornets have yet to play Hannibal. Trenton is also 3-1, but that is at the Class 2 level. So a Kirksville win can springboard the Tigers to a strong finish.