After unexpected win over St. Joseph: Lafayette last week, 5-1 CHS gridders face tougher test tonight against Savages, who clubbed the 57-13 a year ago
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The Chillicothe (Mo.) HS football Hornets got more than a spoonful of Savannah Savages quarterback Chase Spoonemore in their game last year. A year more experienced now and their confidence boosted by last week’s unanticipated 14-13 win over St. Joseph: Lafayette, the 2019 Hornets hope to dish out some revenge tonight (Friday, Oct. 11).
Although easier said than done as they square off at 7 p.m. with the 5-1 host Savages, second-year CHS head coach Tim Rulo’s squad already has established a facility for extreme scoreboard turnarounds from last season.
They began this campaign flipping a 16-0 2018 loss to Marshall to a 20-7 triumph this year. The next week, against a Kirksville club which had crunched them 41-0 last year, the Hornets made a nassuve 70-points turnaround with a 50-21 stunner. over the Tigers.
Then last week, facing a Lafayette program which largely has dominated Chillicothe this decade – even handing the excellent 2017 Hornets their only regular-season loss, Chillicothe rebounded from a 56-6 embarrassment at St. Joseph 52 weeks before with the 1-point win which lifted the 2019 Hornets to the same 5-1 mark which Savannah brings into tonight’s play.
“Our guys have shown some resiliency and continue to improve,” Rulo shared with the C-T about facing a similar flip-the-script task against the Savages. “Just looking forward to see which guys step up.”
Last year’s game, while not solely “the Spoonemore Show,” indisputably was dominated offensively by the now-senior SHS quarterback.
Late in the first quarter of an 8-0 game, he dashed through the slow-reacting CHS defense for an 80-yards touchdown. Less than 79 seconds before halftime, he found a seam again and zipped 79 yards for a score which gave the Savages a 37-6 intermission lead. He later added a 1-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to cap a 234-yards rushing night.
“As No. 3 (Spoonemore) goes, so goos their offense,” Rulo confirms. “Spoonemore is a very good player, makes some great plays – most of them with his feet, but still can throw it pretty well, too.
“He does so much for them. He’s so dynamic. Any time he touches the ball, he can take it to ‘the house.’ He’s the guy you have to account for.”
Chillicothe faced a somewhat-similar challenge last week in Lafayette quarterback Daeton McGaughy, although he had done more passing (200-plus yards) and less rushing (65 yards) damage in the Fighting Irish’s decimation of the Hornets last year.
While they largely quieted McGaughy in the air this time, he did rush for just over 100 yards and had several double-digits runs.
The smaller, quicker Spoonemore, a better passer than McGaughy, figures to run by design more than the Lafayette quarterback did, with a number of McGaughy’s carries and good gains coming on scrambles after looking to pass. The Savannah signalcaller will be a threat that way, too.
Although no longer joined in the backfield in the oft-used “pistol” set by standout running back Titan Irvine, who was a senior last year, Spoonemore is not the only ballcarrier the Hornets must be aware of.
Of particular concern is blazer Jadon Brady, a senior slotback utilized as both a downfield pass target and a runner on jet sweeps and reverses.
Brady also can be a devastating force as a kick returner on both punts and kickoffs. He took a CHS kickoff 84 yards for a score last year. Look for the Hornets to try to do everything they can to prevent him from having a chance to run back any kicks.
Perhaps Chillicothe’s best chance for disrupting and diminishing the Savannah offense lies in trying to get the best of the Savages’ inexperienced line. A year ago, seniors manned all five interior spots for coach Randy Schrader’s squad.
On defense, Savannah doesn’t try to fool foes with disguises or multiple looks, Rulo relates.
“They do a really good job of just lining up in their ‘base’ (stack-3) defense and going and playing football,” the Chillicothe coach says. “I like that physicality they bring to the table. We’ve got to be able to match that every play.”
Chillicothe did manage to generate over 220 rushing yards in last year’s game against that defense, engendering hope that a better CHS squad can be even more effective and produce more points than the 13 they had in 2018.
“We felt like we moved the ball a little bit” against them a year ago,” Rulo remarks. “… The big thing is just execute really well.”
While Savannah is a clear-cut favorite to stay undefeated in Midland Empire Conference play and set up a league title showdown with defending champion Maryville next week, Chillicothe certainly expects to make a better showing against the Savages than it did in last year’s 57-13 blowout.
“Definitely. Last year was not what we wanted,” Rulo says ruefully.
The Hornets actually enter this evening’s game – on what figures to be a soft grass field – slightly ahead of the Savages and still atop the current Class 3 District 16 playoff-seeding ratings.
That could provide extra incentive for another big, upset-producing performance, since a Chillicothe victory over the Savages tonight likely would lead to the Hornets gaining the top seeding in the district playoffs and thus having the chance to play at home in all three rounds.
As of the press deadline for this story (8 a.m. yesterday), the Hornets did not have any injuries or health problems that threatened to keep any regularly-used players out of action tonight.