Rarity as Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Football Hornets Welcome Maryville Tonight
Hornets undefeated, visiting Spoofhounds winless through first two games of 2021
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
For the first time in 14 years this evening, an undefeated Chillicothe (Mo.) HS varsity football Hornets team will take the field against a Maryville Spoofhounds squad which is winless. For the first time in 16 years, that clash will come with CHS also owning at least one victory to go with its zero losses and the inverse for Maryville – at least one loss along with no triumphs.
Given recent history, however, it is the currently 0-2 ’Hounds who will rate as favorites over the 2-0 Hornets at tonight’s 7 p.m. kickoff. Whether a veteran Chillicothe club can capitalize on any vulnerability on the part of a more-transitioning Maryville squad will be decided across about three hours tonight.
The Hornets have been solid and reasonably impressive in dispatching larger-school foes Marshall and Kirksville to begin 2021, but those two opponents project to have losing seasons; neither has won yet this season.
Maryville’s two defeats to date have been to still-undefeated squads with strong recent histories – a 40-6 season-starting loss to Jefferson City: Blair Oaks and a 28-20 setback at what’s anticipated to be a very good Harrisonville team last week.
While Chillicothe has returning starters – albeit not all full-time starters – from 2020 back at nearly every position except the offensive line, Maryville has less than a handful on each side of the ball returning from its Class 3 state runnersup of last fall.
Leading the way offensively for MHS will be senior quarterback Connor Drake, who seamlessly stepped into the void early in 2020 when returning multi-years starter Will Walker went down with a season-ending injury in week two. However, he was surrounded then by a fully-veteran backfield and the usual strong Spoofhounds front line, easing his burden until he got comfortable and more confident. Drake eventually drew honorable mention on the all-Midland Empire Conference team.
This time around, the backs around him are less proven and experienced, although junior Caden Stoecklein was honorable mention all-MEC, and the “O” line, led by third-year starter and 2020 first-team All-MEC player Blake Casteel, has three new starters.
On defense, all-MEC first-team lineman Casteel is back, along with senior first-team all-conference linebacker Drew Spire and second-team all-MEC classmate Kyle Stuart.
Chillicothe has beaten Maryville on the varsity gridiron only once (2017) since 2008 and frequently has been on the painful side of beatdowns and blowouts, including last year’s 62-7 shredding absorbed by a very inexperienced CHS club.
For the Hornets to have a chance to spring a surprise on the visitors tonight, they’ll need to avoid turnovers all night and not fall two or three scores behind early.
Chillicothe is expected to have senior center Anderson DeJesus back in action after he sat out the first two games with a head injury, head coach Chad Smith reported Thursday. In addition, senior Damarcus Kelow should be available for at least some use at either fullback or on defense after suffering a mid-game injury in the opener at Marshall and then playing only in the first quarter of last week’s Kirksville victory.
No Hornets who stand high on the depth chart are expected to be unavailable, the coach told the C-T Thursday evening.
Despite finishing second in the state in Class 3 last year, Maryville comes into the 2021 MEC season in the recently-uncommon position of not being the league’s defending champion. It finished second to Class 2 state runnerup Kansas City: St. Pius X last fall, losing to the Warriors the week after drilling Chillicothe.
Elsewhere around the Constitution-Tribune prep football coverage scene this evening, in 8-man play, 0-2 Southwest Livingston (also including Tina-Avalon and Hale students) will host DeKalb, Braymer/Breckenridge will be favored to get its first triumph as the winless Keytesville Thunder (Keytesville/Mendon: Northwestern/Brunswick co-op) come calling, and Norborne/Hardin-Central (0-2) hosts North Shelby.
In the 11-man ranks, undefeated Hamilton: Penney welcomes North Platte in its KCI Conference opener and 2-0 Marceline journeys to Quincy, Ill., to face Notre Dame. Brookfield (1-1) has its Clarence Cannon Conference opener at Centralia and Carrollton (0-2) has a non-league home outing against Lone Jack.
In the Grand River Conference-East, Polo (2-0) goes to Maysville and Trenton (0-2) hosts Princeton/Mercer.