Last week Hannibal came from behind to beat an improved Mexico team. This week the Pirates play another one-win team, Kirksville, on the road, but Hannibal coach Mark St Clair is not looking past the Tigers.
“Kirksville is a good football team, don’t let (its) record fool you,” St Clair said. “They have switched quarterbacks and they have a QB who is very efficient at running the read option, the counter option, and the gun.”
One of the positives St Clair got from his team during last week’s come-from-behind-win was that the Pirates never gave up.
“That was a big confidence booster,” St Clair said. “The ability to come back when we had 2:30 left on the clock when they scored, we are able to drive the ball and use the clock very efficiently and we scored with 1:01 left. I was very pleased with the way we managed the clock, both on the sideline and from the kids out on the field. We were able to run a bunch of plays in a short period of time and execute fairly well. We are pleased with that.”
Of course, while the Pirates did execute the final drive the way St Clair wanted, there were other aspects of the game that didn’t go according to plan. One of those was the Pirates ability to stop the run.
“(Mexico) was very good,” St Clair said. “But, we made some mistakes. We made some mistakes on some of our calls and on our responsibilities. Some kids getting caught up inside and keeping outside arms free, kids not running the ally exactly right, but that is all stuff we can correct.”
St Clair said Kirksville is going to be another quick team and after what the Bulldogs did, the Pirates will need to address that quickly.
“(Kirksville is) very quick,” St Clair said. “They haven’t really been that fast in the past, but they have really got a lot of speed in their back field right now and they are playing with quite a bit of enthusiasm.”
The run game is also Hannibal’s primary weapon of choice. The Pirates have several backs that can pile up yards on the ground. Senior Mitch Nichols is the Pirates’ lead back and he has rushed for over 100 yards in each of his last three games. But, Nichols has help in the form of Wyatt King, Shamar Griffith, Jerry McBride and even quarterback Austin Kirby.
“It is fairly obvious we want the ball in our running backs hands,” St Clair said. “The game plays out differently every week and you give the ball to the hot hand. Sometimes the other team is focusing on one kid and you go the other way.”
Sometimes instead of running the ball, a team has to put it in the air. Last week the Pirates showed they can be just as dangerous when passing the ball as when running the ball.
“We have always been able to pass the ball,” St Clair said. “Efficiency has never been our problem in throwing. We are capable of throwing it, we just have to find the right times.”
With its first two scores against Mexico coming through the air, Hannibal will likely throw it when the opposition is least expecting it.
“We found two good (moments) last week,” St Clair said. “It puts the defenses in a bad situation. We are going to run the ball and that makes them put seven or eight in the box, and when they put seven or eight in the box, that means we have a pretty good opportunity to throw the football.”
When it comes down to it, St Clair is expecting another good matchup for his Pirates’ football team this Friday night.
“It is going to be a great game,” St Clair said. “It is another conference game and another opportunity for our kids. That is all we want, is an opportunity every Friday night to compete and get our kids in a competitive situation and let them decide what is going on.”