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    Webb City High School wide receiver Alex Gaskill (6) catches a pass in front of Eagles defensive back Spencer Stoneman (15) to score a two-point conversion during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Webb City High School wide receiver Alex Gaskill (6) catches a pass in front of Eagles defensive back Spencer Stoneman (15) to score a two-point conversion during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Webb City High School quarterback Hunter Crabtree (2) scrambles during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Webb City High School quarterback Hunter Crabtree (2) scrambles during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Webb City High School wide receiver Blake Catterson (12) outruns Eagles linebacker Logan Ayers (45) to score a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Webb City High School wide receiver Blake Catterson (12) outruns Eagles linebacker Logan Ayers (45) to score a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Webb City put on the sort of performance that left Nixa fans wondering how on earth the Cardinals have two losses.

    The No. 7-ranked Class 4 team in the state used stingy defense and an efficient rushing offense to beat previously undefeated Nixa 34-10 Friday night at Eagle Stadium in the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors. Webb City held Nixa without a touchdown until the final 30 seconds of the game.

    The football Cardinals opened the season with a 23-7 loss to Carl Junction and a 34-21 loss to Carthage, but the team has since rattled off four straight wins. Webb City (4-2) senior running back Hunter Vanlue had 15 carries, 61 yards and two touchdowns against Nixa (5-1).

    Vanlue attributed the 16-time state championship winning team’s early defeats to lack of concentration.

    “We weren’t really as focused. Those first two games, when we lost them it kind of opened our eyes. We came together as a team more,” Vanlue said.

    Rather than falter, Webb City’s players responded.

    “Our coaches keep us really positive. They teach us adversity is going to happen, it’s how you step up. You’re either going to hunker down or you’re going to step up, and I feel like we all decided we’re going to step up and rise to the occasion,” Vanlue said.

    Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) is buried by Cardinals defensive lineman Tylor Morehead (76) during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) is buried by Cardinals defensive lineman Tylor Morehead (76) during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    The Webb City defense held Nixa without a first down until the second quarter. The Eagles punted on their first five possessions before driving close enough for Sean Sample to kick a 25-yard field goal.

    “Our defense held. We got the ball back at midfield two or three times,” Webb City coach John Roderique said. “When you play good defense and you make people earn yards, first downs and things like that — I was really impressed with the number of third-and-short, fourth-and short stops that we had.”

    Roderique attributes the key stops to Webb City’s four defensive linemen.

    “So many times you only see the guys that play on two feet. Those guys that are playing with their hand on the ground, those are the guys that really make a huge difference. A lot of times those guys can create double teams and move people, it really frees those linebackers up,” Roderique said.

    Unofficially, Webb City limited Nixa to just 34 yards rushing.

    “They can all run,” Nixa coach Richard Rehagen said of Webb City’s defensive players. “It just seems like they get off blocks and run to the ball really well, and that’s been something they’ve done for a long time. It’s not a new thing, they’re still doing it.”

    Nixa also committed 10 penalties.

    Webb City High School running back Cameron Baker (40) tries to shake off Eagles defensive back Jack Sanders (14) during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    Webb City High School running back Cameron Baker (40) tries to shake off Eagles defensive back Jack Sanders (14) during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

    “You’ve got to give Webb City credit tonight, but we didn’t help ourselves. We did have way too many penalties,” Rehagen said.

    On offense, the Cardinals used an array of ball carriers to keep the Nixa defense guessing. Will Larson carried the ball seven times for 36 yards and two touchdowns. Cameron Baker rushed 10 times for 86 yards.

    Webb City held a 22-0 lead before Sample hit his field goal for the Eagles.

    “I felt like we kind of took the wind from them and set the tempo real early, and just kind of led off that the rest of the game,” Vanlue said.

    Senior running back Nicos Oropeza scored Nixa’s lone touchdown on a two-yard plunge in the final minute of play.

    Nixa entered the game as the No. 6-ranked team in the Missouri Media Rankings for Class 5. The Eagles are on the road Friday, Sept. 30 at Carthage at 7 p.m. Webb City hosts Ozark that night for what will be homecoming for the Cardinals.

    Webb City 34, Nixa 10

    At Eagle Stadium, Nixa

    Webb City 14-8-0-12—34

    Nixa 0-3-0-7—10

    First quarter

    Webb City—Will Larson 1-yard run (run failed)

    Webb City—Hunter Vanlue 2-yard run (Blake Catterson run)

    Second quarter

    Webb City—Vanlue 1-yard run (Alex Gaskill pass from Caleb Ensminger)

    Nixa—Sean Sample 25-yard field goal

    Third quarter

    none

    Fourth quarter

    Webb City—Larson 1-yard run (pass failed)

    Webb City—Luis Perez 7-yard run (kick failed)

    Nixa—Nicos Oropeza 2-yard run (Sample kick)


    tmp1474688357988.jpgtdunhamusatodayWebb City High School wide receiver Alex Gaskill (6) catches a pass in front of Eagles defensive back Spencer Stoneman (15) to score a two-point conversion during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Webb City High School quarterback Hunter Crabtree (2) scrambles during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Webb City High School wide receiver Blake Catterson (12) outruns Eagles linebacker Logan Ayers (45) to score a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) is buried by Cardinals defensive lineman Tylor Morehead (76) during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Webb City High School running back Cameron Baker (40) tries to shake off Eagles defensive back Jack Sanders (14) during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.tmp1474688357988.jpgtdunhamusatodayWebb City High School wide receiver Alex Gaskill (6) catches a pass in front of Eagles defensive back Spencer Stoneman (15) to score a two-point conversion during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Webb City High School quarterback Hunter Crabtree (2) scrambles during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Webb City High School wide receiver Blake Catterson (12) outruns Eagles linebacker Logan Ayers (45) to score a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) is buried by Cardinals defensive lineman Tylor Morehead (76) during first quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.Webb City High School running back Cameron Baker (40) tries to shake off Eagles defensive back Jack Sanders (14) during second quarter action of the football game between Nixa High School and Webb City High School at Eagles Stadium in Nixa, Mo. on Sept. 23, 2016. Webb City won the game 34-10.

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    OZARK — When Willard High School scored twice on long plays from scrimmage in the first 2:49 against Ozark Friday, no one on the Ozark sideline panicked.

    Instead, Ozark coach Chad Depee and staff got his squad refocused and they began the task of whittling away at Willard’s lead.

    Ozark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.

    Ozark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.

    “I told the kids, sometimes you can’t control your circumstances, but you can control your response to things,” Depee said. “I’m very proud of our entire program because both the coaching staff and the kids did that tonight.”

    It took most of the remainder of the game, but with just over two minutes left in the game, Ozark wrestled the lead from Willard for a 28-24 Central Ozark Conference Large Division victory.

    “The story of the second half has got to be our defense,” Depee said. “We struggled in that first half and hats off to Willard because they had us reeling. So for our defense to settle back in and shut them out, that’s the big kicker for us.”

    Willard jumped out in front on the second play of the game when junior Nate Swadley broke free for a 78-yard touchdown run and a quick 8-0 lead.

    After three-and-out by Ozark, Willard scored on its very next play — a 70-yard pass from Quinton Batson to Kenny Chambers for a 16-0 Willard lead just 2:49 into the game.

    Ozark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.

    Ozark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.

    “I’ve been really proud of our kids all week, because they’ve really prepared well,” Willard coach Brock Roweton said. “We had a positive attitude and executed very well in practice and we started the game just like that.”

    Ozark answered with a touchdown in the final seconds of the first quarter when Jack Hulse connected with Curt Gracey for a 52-yard score, cutting the lead to 16-7 at the end of the opening period.

    Willard held a 24-14 lead at halftime, but midway through the third quarter, Ozark narrowed the lead once again.

    A 3-yard run by Gracey cut Willard’s lead to 24-21 with 4:50 left in the third period.

    “Our goal on that final drive was to milk as much time off the clock as we could,” Gracey said. “We just kept pushing and getting five and six yards a play and we just kept fighing.”

    Early in the fourth, Ozark put together a 19-play, 97-yard drive that was capped off by a 2-yard run by Hulse as Ozark took its first lead 28-24 with 2:35 left in the game.

    “It was ‘now or never’ at that point,” Depee said. “In reality, what happened there at the end is kind of a blur to be honest with you, but the fact is that these kids stayed resilient and we stayed within ourselves and picked up a big win.”

    On Willard’s ensuing possession, Gracey intercepted a pass in the end zone with 23.4 seconds remaining to seal the win.

    “(Chambers) scored two touchdowns in the first half, so I was manned-up to him the whole second half,” Gracey said. “I was picking up his routes and I could tell he was going to run an out and a post, so I just read it and picked it.

    “It was a great feeling to pull that interception down. This is a great way to show how much we have matured from last year.”

    Hulse led Ozark (4-2, 4-2) with 106 yards rushing on 19 carries and a score and was 3-for-6 passing with 77 yards and a touchdown.

    Gracey finished with 8 rushes for 39 yards and a touchdown, one catch for 52 yards and a score, recovered a fumble and pulled down the interception.

    “When we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, then we’re not bad on offense, but in both halves tonight, every drive that ended was stopped by us,” Roweton said.

    Swadley led Willard (1-5, 0-5) with 186 yards on the ground on 21 attempts and a toudhdown. Chambers totaled four catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

    Willard 16 8 0 0—24

    Ozark 7 7 7 7—28

    First quarter

    Willard — Nate Swadley 78 run ( Quinton Batson run)

    Willard — Kenny Chambers 70 pass from Batson (Swadley run)

    Ozark — Curt Gracey 52 pass from Jack Hulse (Chandeler Goss kick)

    Second quarter

    Ozark — Nathaniel Burlage 6 run (Goss kick)

    Willard — Chambers 15 pass from Batson (Swadley run)

    Third quarter

    Ozark — Gracey 3 run (Goss kick)

    Fourth quarter

    Ozark — Hulse 2 run (Goss kick)


    tmp1474692429132.jpgtdunhamusatodayOzark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.Ozark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.tmp1474692429132.jpgtdunhamusatodayOzark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.Ozark High School faced Willard High School for their homecoming Friday, September 23, 2016.

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    Two Springfield football teams have never met on the gridiron, but their Thursday matchup offers plenty of intrigue.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Lighthouse Christian (4-2) visits Central (0-6) Thursday night at Harrison Stadium in the inaugural meeting between the Chargers at the Bulldogs. Central will also observe homecoming during the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    Lighthouse Christian is a team of homeschooled players from in and around Springfield. The Chargers are not a member of the Missouri State High School Activities Association, but Lighthouse Christian gained “approved non-member” status from MSHSAA to play against Missouri public school teams.

    Central junior quarterback Danny Adams during a 2016 preseason jamboree at Rogersville.

    Central junior quarterback Danny Adams during a 2016 preseason jamboree at Rogersville.

    Lighthouse Christian plays a mixed schedule of games against homeschool and non-homeschool opponents. On Friday, the Chargers traveled to Oklahoma and beat Tulsa NOAH Homeschool 49-7.

    Coach Rian Bess said his team is excited to stay in Springfield this week.

    “Us homeschool folk, we’re kind of excited because we get to stay in town this week,” Bess said.

    The Chargers are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation in the National Homeschool Football Association rankings. The Chargers plan to qualify for the NHFA National Championship Tournament, held annually in November in Panama City Beach, Florida. They have won five times since 2007.

    Thursday’s game marks the first time the Chargers have faced a Class 5 opponent.

    “We’re just grateful for opportunities for some of the MSHSAA schools around here to help us get ready for our homeschool national football tournament, which is going to be in mid-November,” Bess said.

    Central fell to 0-6 with a loss at Nevada on Friday night. The Bulldogs are seeking their first win under first-year head coach Sean Nevills, who said Friday’s 54-6 result came down to a lack of focus.

    “We showed up. We were there; our bodies were there, but our minds were not there against Nevada—a team we felt like we should have matched up well against, but we just weren’t there,” Nevills said.

    In a definite rebuilding year, Nevills said the Bulldogs players and coaching staff are trying to learn from each week’s game.

    “I told the guys, ‘Hey, we’re 0-0 again,’” Nevills said. “We’re a young team and we’re still learning. We’re learning how to prepare ourselves, not just as coaches, as a staff, but how to individually prepare our young men.”

    News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Lighthouse Christian (4-2) at Central (0-6)

    Thursday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

    Harrison Stadium

    900 N Summit Ave, Springfield, MO


    tmp1474931225852.jpgtdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsCentral junior quarterback Danny Adams during a 2016 preseason jamboree at Rogersville.tmp1474931225852.jpgtdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsCentral junior quarterback Danny Adams during a 2016 preseason jamboree at Rogersville.

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    Springfield’s last unbeaten high school football team now ranks No. 3 in the state.

    Glendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) is slammed to the ground short of the goal line by a Viking defender during first quarter action of the football game between Glendale High School and Parkview High School at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 22, 2016.

    Glendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) is slammed to the ground short of the goal line by a Viking defender during first quarter action of the football game between Glendale High School and Parkview High School at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 22, 2016.

    Glendale (6-0) moved up to the No. 3 position in the Class 5 Missouri Media Rankings following a 55-28 win over Parkview. Junior quarterback Alex Huston racked up 401 passing yards in the first half but left the game in the third quarter after getting sacked by the Parkview defense.

    At Monday’s meeting of the Springfield Quarterback Club, Falcons coach Mike Mauk said that Huston’s injury was minor and that Huston should be available for Friday’s game against Rolla at Lowe Stadium. Through six games, Huston has a 69.4 pass completion percentage with 3,078 passing yards and 36 passing touchdowns.

    Von Oeser played quarterback for Glendale in the second half against Parkview and went 12-of-16 passing for 130 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.

    “Out of a precautionary measure we kept (Huston) out, and fortunately didn’t have to use him again,” Mauk said. “Von Oeser did a great job for us, so we’re excited that that gave us a little bit of depth looking to the future with the teams we’re going to have to play up the road.”

    Rolla enters Friday night’s game 1-5.

    “They’ve had some games that haven’t really gone well for them, but we know they’ve got good athletes. They beat us last year up at their place, so we know it’s going to be a very difficult game for us,” Mauk said.

    Kickapoo (5-1) holds steady in the Class 6 poll at No. 8. The Chiefs travel to West Plains (2-4) on Friday night.

    Other teams to hold their positions in the state rankings include Class 3 No. 4 Monett (5-1), Class 2 No. 2 Mountain View Liberty (6-0), and Class 2 No. 8 Fair Grove (6-0).

    Missouri Media Rankings after Week 6

    Rankings are compiled by the votes of a 14-member panel of reporters. First-place votes are in parenthesis.

    CLASS 6

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. CBC (12), 5-1, 138, 1

    2. Blue Springs (2), 5-1, 128, 2

    3. Kirkwood, 4-1, 107, 3

    4. Rockhurst, 5-1, 83, 4 

    5. Jefferson City, 5-1, 82, 5

    6. Hazelwood Central, 6-0, 73, 6   

    7. Lee’s Summit, 5-1, 54, 7

    8. Kickapoo, 5-1, 35, 8 

    9. Blue Springs South, 4-2, 27, NR   

    10. Eureka, 5-1, 25, 10

    Dropped out: No. 9 Raymore-Peculiar

    Also receiving votes:  Lee’s Summit West (4-2), 9; Raymore-Peculiar (4-2), 8; Ritenour (5-1), 1

    CLASS 5

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Chaminade (12), 4-1, 138, 1

    2. Battle (2), 6-0, 127, 2

    3. Glendale, 6-0, 110, 5

    4. Fort Zumwalt North, 5-1, 97, 7

    5. William Chrisman, 6-0, 67, NR

    6. Park Hill South, 5-1, 64, 9  

    7. Liberty, 5-1, 46, 4

    8. Staley, 4-2, 43, 3

    9. Carthage, 5-1, 27, NR 

    10. Jackson, 5-1, 25, 9

    Dropped out: No. 6 Nixa, No. 10 Liberty North

    Also receiving votes:  Nixa (5-1), 13; Vianney (2-4), 6; Pattonville (3-3), 5; Timberland (5-1), 2

    CLASS 4

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Kearney (14), 5-0, 140, 1 

    2. Hannibal, 5-1, 113, 4 

    3. Platte County, 4-2, 99, 5

    4. Webb City, 4-2, 83, 7

    5. Carl Junction, 4-2, 81, 2

    6. Parkway North, 4-2, 80, 3 

    7. St. Dominic, 6-0, 71, 6 

    8. Ladue, 5-1, 52, 9

    9. Hillsboro, 6-0, 29, 9

    10. Smithville, 6-0, 21, 1

    Also receiving votes:  MICDS (4-2), 1  

    CLASS 3

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Maryville (12), 6-0, 138, 1

    2. Blair Oaks (2), 6-0, 128, 2

    3. Center, 6-0, 105, 3 

    4. Monett, 5-1, 91, 4

    5. McCluer South-Berkley, 6-0, 78, 5

    6. Richmond, 6-0, 65, 8

    7. Park Hills Central, 6-0, 63, 7

    8. Mexico, 4-2, 44, 9

    9. Osage, 6-0, 32, 10

    10. John Burroughs, 3-3, 22, 6 

    Also receiving votes: Miller Career (5-1), 2; Chillicothe (5-1), 1; Reeds Springs (5-1), 1     

    CLASS 2

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Lamar (14), 5-0, 140, 1

    2. Mtn. View-Liberty, 6-0, 126, 2

    3. Trinity, 6-0, 103, 5

    T4. Centralia, 5-1, 81, 3

    T4. Lutheran North, 5-1, 81, 6

    6. Mountain Grove, 5-1, 77, 4

    7. Malden, 6-0, 66, 7

    8. Fair Grove, 6-0, 34, 8

    9. Lawson, 5-1, 27, 10

    10. Macon, 6-0, 26, 9

    Also receiving votes:  South Callaway (6-0), 3; Lexington (6-0), 3 

    CLASS 1

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Valle Catholic (14), 6-0, 1

    2. Marceline, 6-0, 123, 2

    3. Hamilton-Penney, 6-0, 114, 3

    4. Lincoln, 6-0, 98, 4

    5. Hayti, 5-1, 73, 6

    6. Maysville, 5-1, 72, 8

    7. Cass-Midway, 5-1, 44, 7

    8. Wellington-Napoleon, 5-1, 22, NR

    9. East Buchanan, 4-2, 21, 7

    10. Thayer, 4-2, 19, NR

    Dropped out: No. 9 Polo, No. T10 Lockwood, No. T10 Monroe City

    Also receiving votes:  Skyline (3-3), 17; Lockwood (5-1), 12; Monroe City (4-2), 11; Westran (4-2), 2; Ash Grove (5-1), 1; Polo (4-2), 1  


    tmp1475004188388.jpgtdunhamusatodayGlendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) is slammed to the ground short of the goal line by a Viking defender during first quarter action of the football game between Glendale High School and Parkview High School at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 22, 2016.tmp1475004188388.jpgtdunhamusatodayGlendale High School wide receiver Jeremy Almeida (88) is slammed to the ground short of the goal line by a Viking defender during first quarter action of the football game between Glendale High School and Parkview High School at JFK Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 22, 2016.

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    To say that the Central Bulldogs want to taste sweet football victory grossly undersells their hunger.

    Central freshman running back Montrey White (right) takes a handoff from junior quarterback Danny Adams (center) during the Bulldogs' practice at Harrison Stadium on Monday, Sept. 26.

    Central freshman running back Montrey White (right) takes a handoff from junior quarterback Danny Adams (center) during the Bulldogs’ practice at Harrison Stadium on Monday, Sept. 26.

    Just ask senior offensive tackle Craigen Hatfield.

    “I’m starving. I’m like an angry beast that you haven’t fed and you just keep throwing rocks at it. I’m ready to get this one,” Hatfield said.

    Central enters Thursday’s homecoming game against the Lighthouse Christian Chargers a winless 0-6. The inaugural meeting between Springfield’s oldest high school and Springfield’s team of homeschooled athletes has been named News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    The makeup of the Bulldogs’ roster is far different from the 2015 version that went 5-5 and ended a streak of losing seasons that dated back to 2003.

    Coach Sean Nevills seeks his first win as a head coach. The Missouri State graduate spent three years on the coaching staff at Battle High School in Columbia, and took the Central job in the summer. Throughout what has been a complete rebuilding process to this point, Nevills stressed to the players not to worry about their win-loss record, but to focus on being a better team.

    “I told them, ‘Guys, remember with the way this season is for us, we’re 0-0 every week,’” Nevills said.

    Nevills’ arrival coincided with the gutting of the Central roster. Some players quit, others transferred to other schools. As of Monday’s practice, less than 30 players remained, and only four are seniors.

    “It’s kind of like my freshman year when they went 2-8,” senior wide receiver Robert Galvin said. “I feel like we’re starting all over again.”

    Galvin said Nevills brought with him a different attitude from the first day onward.

    “Coach Nevills really brought a positive perspective to the team. He tried to uplift everybody,” Galvin said. “If you really weren’t with the program, then you weren’t on the team at all, and there were some guys we lost due to that.”

    Game of the Week: Lighthouse Christian and Central meet for first time ever

    Former coach Lorenzo Williams left Central after two seasons to coach in his home state of Oklahoma. “Coach Zo,” as the players called him, was popular with many of his players.

    “For all four years that I’ve been at Central, we all called each other family. We came every summer, we worked hard, we ran, we put in all this work and then when stuff got tough — when Zo left — everybody bailed,” Galvin said. “The family sense isn’t there because family sticks together through tough times, and that didn’t really happen.”

    The players who are left at Central are doing their best to lay a foundation for the future, for a returning sense of family, and they are looking to a handful of upperclassmen for leadership.

    “To be completely honest, it’s pretty nerve-wracking and kind of heartbreaking that we don’t have more (seniors) out here with us,” Hatfield said. “You’ve got a lot of responsibility on your back trying to lead the team into next year.”

    Some of the changes to the program were evident at a Monday practice, as players bear crawled and crab walked up a hill outside of Harrison Stadium, repeatedly, after the coaching staff examined their grades and compiled a report on each player’s academic standing.

    Nevills said he wants the Bulldogs to know the importance of their classwork, even if they learn it by crawling up a steep hill.

    “It’s more than just the Xs and Os of the game. I am an administrator, academic advisor, career coach and to some of these kids a father, so I take this seriously. I love this job, I love where I am and I love the guys that I’m working with,” Nevills said.

    Nevills remains up front with the team about wanting to build a program with staying power.

    “(Nevills) does want to win, but he more wants the program to be set as well, because once the program is set, winning comes easily,” Hatfield said.

    As Nevills works to build a team Central can be proud of, he hopes to see more kids stick with football through four years of high school.

    “Part of this job is getting those guys in the hall (at school) that aren’t with me this year on the football team next year, and give them that chance, not just in the game but in life to become something more than they think they are,” Nevills said.

    It’s the sort of message that resonates with players like Galvin, who hopes his team can show its progress Thursday night when Lighthouse Christian visits.

    “This is a game I put my blood, my sweat and my tears into — something I love. I’m very passionate about football, so it would be great to have our first win on homecoming night,” Galvin said.

    Even if they aren’t winning, the Bulldogs talk like a team that is learning.

    “Life is going to throw you a bunch of punches, and you’ve got to be able to deal with it. This is the fate that we’ve got, so you’ve got to go with it. You’ve got to roll with the punches,” Galvin said.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Springfield News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Lighthouse Christian (4-2) at Central (0-6)

    Thursday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

    Ralph A. Harrison Stadium

    900 North Summit Avenue, Springfield


    tdunhamusatodayCentral freshman running back Montrey White (right) takes a handoff from junior quarterback Danny Adams (center) during the Bulldogs' practice at Harrison Stadium on Monday, Sept. 26.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayCentral freshman running back Montrey White (right) takes a handoff from junior quarterback Danny Adams (center) during the Bulldogs' practice at Harrison Stadium on Monday, Sept. 26.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    They won five national championships, they have sent players on to college football, but they may be the least recognized varsity football team in Springfield.

    The Lighthouse Christian Chargers football team prepares for practice at the James River Assembly North Campus in Springfield.

    The Lighthouse Christian Chargers football team prepares for practice at the James River Assembly North Campus in Springfield.

    While their counterparts practice in stadiums on artificial turf, the Lighthouse Christian Chargers practice on a stretch of patchy grass and dirt situated between a church and a pasture off of U.S. 160. The Chargers are Springfield’s homeschool football team, they have a shipping container instead of a locker room, and their coaches are all unpaid volunteers. Some of the players drive more than 40 miles one way to attend practices.

    The Chargers’ approach to high school football is a bit different.

    “We’re a ministry disguised as a football team,” senior wide receiver/linebacker Haaken Friend said. “We’re an aggressive team and we like to hit people, but we also like to help them up. It’s not something you see every day.”

    For the first time ever, Lighthouse Christian will play a Springfield team on Thursday night. The Chargers (4-2) visit Central (0-6) in the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors. Lighthouse Christian has never played a Class 5 school. To date, the largest opposition it faced in terms of student population is Class 3 East Newton.

    “It’s a pretty big deal. A lot of people that I know grew up playing on this same field, they’re probably a little bit jealous,” Friend said. “It’s just a big deal to finally get our name out there locally, and it’s really exciting.”

    After coaching change divided team, winless Central still trying to rebuild

    Lighthouse Christian starts and finishes every team activity huddled in a circle in prayer, as many public school teams do. When the huddle breaks, they rush to start their first drill.

    “Let’s go baby, we got Central on Thursday,” comes a shout from the defense.

    Maybe this team isn’t that different after all.

    The Lighthouse Christian Chargers stretch before practice at James River Assembly North Campus (formerly Evergreen Church) on Sept. 27, 2016.

    The Lighthouse Christian Chargers stretch before practice at James River Assembly North Campus (formerly Evergreen Church) on Sept. 27, 2016.

    “They all come early, and they all stay late just to hang out in the parking lot a little bit,” coach Rian Bess said. “We’re trying to raise these boys to someday love their family, obviously love the Lord, and someday if they do have kids to raise those kids to love the Lord as well.”

    Bess, in his second season as a head coach, is a children’s pastor who has never made a nickel coaching Lighthouse Christian. Friend, a 6-foot-6, 205-pounder, is one of his entrusted team captains.

    “These coaches are just absolutely amazing in the sacrifices that they give. It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work,” Friend said. “It’s definitely tested my patience a little bit, but that’s a good thing. It stretches me to be a better person and encourages me to encourage others to do the same.”

    Friend used his size to become senior quarterback Bryant Taylor’s top target.

    “Every single time I pass the ball, (Friend) makes me look good,” Taylor said.

    Lighthouse Christian senior linebacker Haaken Friend (center) prepares checks his alignment before a play during a Chargers practice Sept. 27, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian senior linebacker Haaken Friend (center) prepares checks his alignment before a play during a Chargers practice Sept. 27, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian, traditionally a run-based team, has gone to the air with Taylor and Friend as offensive leaders.

    “Last year was Bryant Taylor’s first year being a quarterback. Amazing, it just blows my mind,” Bess said. “We’re looking more at trying to pass and see how we do with it, and that’s kind of the philosophy. It definitely takes some time to get that into place.”

    In 2015, the Chargers were granted non-member approval status by the Missouri State High School Activities Association to play some games against public and private schools. The move took away some of the Chargers’ trips to Oklahoma to find other homeschool opponents, but Lighthouse Christian will play games in six different states this season. The inaugural visit to Central is welcomed.

    “It means a lot for the guys who played for us and worked hard, and the guys who had to travel to Oklahoma every weekend just to play,” Taylor said.

    The Chargers are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation in the National Homeschool Football Association rankings. The players plan to qualify for the NHFA National Championship Tournament, held annually in November in Panama City Beach, Florida. They have won five times since 2007, and as recently as 2014.

    “Every game is a big deal to me. Every season game matters going down there (to the national championship tournament in Florida),” Taylor said. “I think we can go down and contend.”

    Central fans should expect to see plenty of guests on Thursday night. Years of traveling out of state for games have conditioned Chargers fans to travel well.

    “We have a family dynamic here,” Bess said. “We go to a lot of games where we have more than the home team, fan-wise, and we love that.”

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Springfield News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Lighthouse Christian (4-2) at Central (0-6)

    Thursday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m.

    Ralph A. Harrison Stadium

    900 North Summit Avenue, Springfield


    tdunhamusatodayThe Lighthouse Christian Chargers football team prepares for practice at the James River Assembly North Campus in Springfield.The Lighthouse Christian Chargers stretch before practice at James River Assembly North Campus (formerly Evergreen Church) on Sept. 27, 2016.Lighthouse Christian senior linebacker Haaken Friend (center) prepares checks his alignment before a play during a Chargers practice Sept. 27, 2016.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayThe Lighthouse Christian Chargers football team prepares for practice at the James River Assembly North Campus in Springfield.The Lighthouse Christian Chargers stretch before practice at James River Assembly North Campus (formerly Evergreen Church) on Sept. 27, 2016.Lighthouse Christian senior linebacker Haaken Friend (center) prepares checks his alignment before a play during a Chargers practice Sept. 27, 2016.News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    Here are the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week for the week of Sept. 19-24:

    Springfield Catholic quarterback Tyson Riley (8) warms up prior to a 2016 regular season game.

    Springfield Catholic quarterback Tyson Riley (8) warms up prior to a 2016 regular season game.

    Kaitlyn Snyder and Kytlin Pearce

    Republic tennis

    Republic capped off an undefeated season in the Central Ozarks Conference Large Division by winning the COC Tournament. Snyder won first place at No. 1 singles, Pearce won first place at No. 2 singles, and the two paired up to win the No. 1 doubles championship. Republic’s unbeaten run through the COC is the best finish in the history of the Tigers tennis program.

    Jarod Ozee

    Kickapoo Cross Country

    Kickapoo put five runners in the top 20 when 179 runners took to a 5-kilometer course in Hermitage on Saturday. Ozee led the field to the finish line in 16:47.88, which was quick enough to beat his teammate Brenden Crews by less than six seconds. Tyler Bossing, Damian Gonzales and Cameron Hole all finished in the top 20 for Kickapoo.

    Tyson Riley

    Springfield Catholic football

    Riley rushed nine times for 157 yards on three touchdowns on a night that saw Catholic’s ground game shine. The Fightin’ Irish gained a total of 411 yards rushing in a 49-14 win at Buffalo. Just a sophomore, Riley’s rushing prowess will likely increase as he gains more experience in the flex bone offense.

    Varsity sports coaches, would you like to nominate one of your players to be an American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performer of the Week? Email your nomination to News-Leader high school sports reporter Rance Burger (rburger@news-leader.com) by 5 p.m. each Monday.

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week


    tdunhamusatodaySpringfield Catholic quarterback Tyson Riley (8) warms up prior to a 2016 regular season game.American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the WeektdunhamusatodaySpringfield Catholic quarterback Tyson Riley (8) warms up prior to a 2016 regular season game.American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

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    Having more than one player at quarterback works for the Hornets

    HSS_DefaulttdunhamusatodayHSS_Defaulttdunhamusatoday

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    Moments after pulling off a 48-32 win, players from the Lighthouse Christian Chargers gathered at midfield with their opponents from Central.

    It wasn’t the typical handshake line you’d see at the end of most football games. Players from both teams took turns trading compliments, and they closed with a prayer and a breakdown with both teams chanting “brotherhood.”

    Chargers (5-2) quarterback Bryant Taylor rushed 42 times for 156 yards and five touchdowns. He also completed seven passes for 193 yards and a touchdown pass to Haaken Friend. Bryant explained the postgame meeting with Central’s players.

    “It touches my heart because it makes everything better after the game,” Taylor said. “You got a little sour with somebody, after the game you hug him, you tell him, ‘good job.’ It’s a physical sport, people get heated, but that’s where it ends. It doesn’t go on to next year.”

    Coach Rian Bess explained that Lighthouse Christian, a Springfield-based football team for homeschooled players, meets after the game with any and all willing opponents.

    “We just want to call out some boys that played a good game. Obviously we can see it, but maybe they don’t hear it at home or whatever it might be, so we want them to know that we saw that they’re good players,” Bess said.

    Central High School quarterback Danny Adams (6) is smothered by a host of Chargers defenders including Matthew Humphrey (70) and Connor Jett (59) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Central High School quarterback Danny Adams (6) is smothered by a host of Chargers defenders including Matthew Humphrey (70) and Connor Jett (59) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Thursday night’s game at Harrison Stadium marked the first time Lighthouse Christian had played a Class 5 public school.

    The Chargers routinely ran a formation called “super heavy,” two tights, three blocking backs, and a quarterback in the shotgun. The result was a heavy rushing workload for Taylor.

    “If it works, it works. I just like W’s. I’ll give up my passing yards for any W,” Taylor said. “Oh, man. I feel it right now. I’m going to go home, ice down, do the best I can to get ready for next week.”

    Central coach Sean Nevills was impressed with the show of sportsmanship after the game.

    “That’s new to me, but that was definitely pure. Coach Bess — he’s got a great team and those guys (were) very respectful throughout the game. Our guys even fed off that, we had sportsmanship on both sides,” Nevills said. “It was very pure and authentic.”

    Lighthouse Christian took advantage of field position and two Central fumbles to score 26 consecutive points in the second quarter. Central freshman running back Montrey White carried the ball 24 times for 278 yards and four touchdowns.

    “(White) is getting there just like a lot of these young guys that are out there working hard,” Nevills said.

    Friend had three receptions for 70 yards and an interception on defense. Braeden Mathews had 10 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown.

    In the Bulldogs’ locker room after the game, senior captains Robert Galvin, a wide receiver, and Craigen Hatfield, an offensive tackle, addressed the Central underclassmen about the homecoming loss and the drop to 0-7. This is Nevills’ first season as a head coach and his first at Central.

    “We obviously really wanted to win for those seniors but didn’t, but definitely had our best showing,” Nevills said. “Our guys got up, Robert and Craigen, and let our younger guys know, ‘this is you in the next couple of years. You’re setting the tone, you’re part of the process to make it better, to win these games.’”

    Galvin caught two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown, which came on the final play of the first half. He also had a sack for the Bulldogs’ defense.

    Taylor, with firsthand knowledge from his 42 carries, complimented Central’s defense.

    “They can hit pretty good and they group tackle, they play as a team. I respect any defense that is willing to play as a team. It shows unselfishness, and it’s a hard thing to do,” Taylor said.

    Both teams return to Friday night games next week. On Oct. 7, Lighthouse Christian visits Tipton and Central hosts Clinton at Harrison Stadium. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

    Lighthouse Christian 48, Central 32

    At Ralph A. Harrison Stadium, Springfield

    Lighthouse Christian 8-26-8-6—48

    Central 8-12-6-6—32

    First quarter

    Lighthouse Christian—Bryant Taylor 4-yard run (Haaken Friend pass from Taylor)

    Central—Montrey White 46-yard run (White run)

    Second quarter

    Central—White 95-yard run (run failed)

    Lighthouse Christian—Taylor 3-yard run (run failed)

    Lighthouse Christian—Braeden Mathews 36-yard run (pass failed)

    Lighthouse Christian—Friend 6-yard pass from Taylor (pass failed)

    Lighthouse Christian—Taylor 15-yard run (Mathews run)

    Central—Robert Galvin 13-yard pass from Danny Adams (run failed)

    Third quarter

    Central—White 27-yard run (run failed)

    Lighthouse Christian—Taylor 6-yard run (Mathews pass from Taylor)

    Fourth quarter

    Central—White 46-yard run (run failed)

    Lighthouse Christian—Taylor 1-yard run (pass failed)

    Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) throws a pass during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) throws a pass during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian running back J. Braeden Mathews (3) carries the ball during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian running back J. Braeden Mathews (3) carries the ball during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) runs in between Bulldog defenders to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) runs in between Bulldog defenders to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian Academy receiver Joshua Street (18) catches a long pass by quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

    Lighthouse Christian Academy receiver Joshua Street (18) catches a long pass by quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.


    tdunhamusatodayCentral High School quarterback Danny Adams (6) is smothered by a host of Chargers defenders including Matthew Humphrey (70) and Connor Jett (59) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) throws a pass during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian running back J. Braeden Mathews (3) carries the ball during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) runs in between Bulldog defenders to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian Academy receiver Joshua Street (18) catches a long pass by quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.tdunhamusatodayCentral High School quarterback Danny Adams (6) is smothered by a host of Chargers defenders including Matthew Humphrey (70) and Connor Jett (59) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) throws a pass during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian running back J. Braeden Mathews (3) carries the ball during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian Academy quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) runs in between Bulldog defenders to score a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.Lighthouse Christian Academy receiver Joshua Street (18) catches a long pass by quarterback Bryant Taylor (17) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Lighthouse Christian Academy and Central High School at Harrison Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 29, 2016.

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    Thursday, Sept. 29

    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    They waited years, but the senior football players from Mt. Vernon finally achieved the dream of beating a rival on their home turf.

    The Mountaineers defeated Aurora 42-28 Friday at Mountaineer Stadium in a rivalry known as the Poss Jackson Bell Bowl that dates back to 1919. Jackson, a resident of the Missouri Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon, attended the game and took part in a ceremonial coin toss.

    Wide receiver/defensive back Jarrett Massie led Mt. Vernon with eight receptions, which went for 85 yards and two touchdowns. He was all smiles after the game.

    “It honestly means everything. I know us senior boys—we’d never beat them before and our senior year, it feels amazing to beat them,” Massie said.

    Mt. Vernon last won the Bell Bowl rivalry in 2012, but coach Tom Cox explained that the desire to beat Aurora ran deeper than that for the Mountaineer seniors.

    “This is the first time that our seniors have ever beaten Aurora, all the way up. I’m talking Mighty Mites to junior high to high school, so it was an important game for a lot of different reasons,” Cox said.

    Mt. Vernon quarterback Garrett Hadlock went 17-of-27 passing for 283 yards and three touchdowns. His top yardage man was junior Andrew Montemayor, who caught four passes for 97 yards.

    Mt. Vernon’s passing game got some complimentary help from running back Sammy Robinson, who carried the ball 24 times for 163 yards and a touchdown.

    “Our offensive line is starting to come together. We’ve done a few things differently up front and with our running game that has helped, but it’s great to see Sammy have the confidence, and he wants the ball,” Cox said.

    Mt. Vernon improves to 5-2 in the third year of Cox’s second stint as the head coach. The improvement is welcome.

    “It’s always been rough for us and our senior year, breaking out is awesome,” Massie said.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon got six points from kicker Jayden Buttram, who bonked in a 42-yard field goal off the crossbar in the second quarter and followed that with a confident 44-yard field goal from the right hash mark to close the second half.

    “My heart skipped a beat. I was about to drop down and be dead. It was one of the longest ones I’ve hit in a game so far, so the second one just felt really good. I had everybody supporting me,” Buttram said.

    Buttram’s father, Jesse Buttram, is a member of the Mt. Vernon chain gang. He has not watched his son kick a field goal or an extra point for several weeks. When Jayden Buttram lines up a kick, his father turns his back to the field and lets the other chain gang members describe the outcome.

    “The first week at Reeds Spring I missed two and he was watching,” Jayden Buttram said of his father. “On every single kick he turns his back and just looks away. I haven’t missed one yet.”

    Aurora quarterback Payton Evans completed 22-of-39 pass attempts for 196 yards, which gives him 1,156 yards passing through seven games. The Houn’ Dawgs (1-5) also got a pair of rushing touchdowns from Wyatt Neff.

    “I think my team stepped up,” Aurora coach Kale Kilgo said. “They didn’t bow down. Except for a couple of mistakes here and there, I think we played good.”

    Though Aurora has struggled this season, it didn’t look like a team with only one win. The Houn’ Dawgs traded blows early with Mt. Vernon and outscored the Mountaineers in the fourth quarter.

    “I told them before the game, if they gave me their hearts and if they couldn’t walk themselves off the field, I’d carry them, and they did that. They gave me all their heart,” Kilgo said.

    On Oct. 7, Aurora is scheduled to host Cassville (5-2) at 7 p.m. Mt. Vernon is schedule to host Lamar (5-0), winners of five consecutive Class 2 state championships and the No. 1-ranked Class 2 team in Missouri.

    Mt. Vernon 42, Aurora 28

    At Mountaineer Stadium, Mt. Vernon

    Aurora 8-6-0-14—28

    Mt. Vernon 15-13-7-7—42

    First quarter

    Mt. Vernon—Sammy Robinson 11-yard run (Robinson run)

    Aurora—Keaton Willard 16-yard pass from Payton Evans (Kaleb Barker pass from Evans)

    Mt. Vernon—Andrew Montemayor 48-yard pass from Garrett Hadlock (Jayden Buttram kick)

    Second quarter

    Aurora—Wyatt Neff 6-yard run (kick failed)

    Mt. Vernon—Jarrett Massie 11-yard pass from Garrett Hadlock (Buttram kick)

    Mt. Vernon—Buttram 42-yard field goal

    Mt. Vernon—Buttram 44-yard field goal

    Third quarter

    Mt. Vernon—Hadlock 6-yard run (Buttram kick)

    Fourth quarter

    Aurora—Neff 15-yard run (Jeremy Scholbrock kick)

    Mt. Vernon—Massie 31-yard pass from Hadlock (Buttram kick)

    Aurora—Evans 7-yard run (Scholbrock kick)

    Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn' Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn’ Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

    Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.


    tdunhamusatodayMt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn' Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.tdunhamusatodayMt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) trots into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School wide receiver Jarrett Massie (24) avoids a tackle by Houn' Dawg defensive back Logan Lauffer (5) during second quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) catches a pass from quarterback Garrett Hadlock (not pictured) during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016. Montemayor would score a touchdown on the play.Mt. Vernon High School running back SAmmy Robinson (6) stretches out to get into the end zone for a two-point conversion during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Sammy Robinson (6) leaps in celebration with offensive lineman James Lee (51) after Robinson scored a touchdown in first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.Mt. Vernon High School running back Andrew Montemayor (21) leaps into the end zone for a touchdown during first quarter action of the high school football game between Mt. Vernon High School and Aurora High School at Mountaineer Stadium in Mt. Vernon, Mo. on Sept. 30, 2016.

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    The football rivalry between Ozark and Nixa dates back to 1988, but some residents of Christian County will tell you the rivalry extends far beyond high school sports.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Nixa (5-2) visits Ozark (5-2) Friday for the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors. Nixa enters the game coming off back-to-back losses, while Ozark comes off a 17-12 stunning of perennial Class 4 power Webb City.

    Ozark holds quality wins over Class 5 No. 8 Carthage and Class 4 No. 4 Carl Junction. Losses to Republic and Neosho dot the Tigers’ record.

    Nixa rattled off wins over Willard, Branson, Central, Republic and Neosho, but suffered back-to-back losses to Webb City and Carthage.

    If you compare common opponents, this matchup is a wash. Forget about the records when the “Christian County Super Bowl” rolls around.

    Coach Chad Depee began preaching defense when he arrived at Ozark from Monett a season ago, and it seems the Tigers have listened. Ozark forced four turnovers in the win at Webb City and a red zone stand in the fourth quarter that featured a sack from Brock Herrold and Solomon Douglas and pass breakup by Reed Herrold.

    Quarterback Andrew Rivera and the Nixa offense will look to get going after scoring just 17 points in the last two games. Prior to the losses to Webb City and Carthage, Nixa had been scoring an average of 32.6 points per game.

    News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Nixa (5-2) at Ozark (5-2)

    Friday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

    Tiger Stadium

    1350 West Bluff Drive, Ozark

    Ozark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.

    Ozark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.


    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsOzark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsOzark junior fullback Nathaniel Burlage (33) and the Tigers host rival Nixa Friday, Oct. 7 in the News-Leader Game of the Week.

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    Hillcrest's Erik Savage gains some yardage as his team played host to Parkview in Springfield on September 29, 2016.

    Hillcrest’s Erik Savage gains some yardage as his team played host to Parkview in Springfield on September 29, 2016.

    Here are the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week for the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 1:

    Yahya Ben Makhlouf

    Central soccer

    Senior striker Yahya Ben Makhlouf scored the first two goals of Thursday’s 3-0 win over Rogersville that brought the Bulldogs to 13-3 on the season. Senior midfielder Josh Hession added a goal and an assist for the Bulldogs. Ben Makhlouf also scored a goal on a penalty kick in the second half of a 2-1 loss to Springfield Catholic that went from overtime to a penalty kick shootout, which Catholic won 3-0.

    Meredith Sharp

    Greenwood golf

    Greenwood senior Meredith Sharp won the Class 1 District 4 individual championship with an 18-hole score of 85 at Frank E. Peters Municipal Golf Course in Nevada on Monday. Greenwood’s team score of 398 won the team championship by 19 strokes, and Sharp advanced on the sectional round. Sharp is a three-time state championship tournament qualifier.

    Claire Workman

    Summit Prep cross country

    Runners from several states convened on Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday for the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival. Workman finished sixth overall in the high school girls “El Caliente” division with a time of 17:54.27 in the five-kilometer race. Workman is the two-time reigning and defending Missouri state champion in Class 1 cross country.

    Gabby Birmingham

    Glendale volleyball

    Birmingham put up 10 kills, seven assists, two blocks and eight digs in a well-rounded outing against Central. Glendale pulled off a 27-25, 25-14 win over the Bulldogs.

    Erik Savage

    Hillcrest football

    Hillcrest (3-4) used ball control and the run game to get past Parkview 31-24 on Friday night. The versatile Savage picked up 202 of Hillcrest’s 280 rushing yards from the quarterback spot, and 124 of his yards came in the second half. Savage had missed the two prior games of the season with a leg injury.

    Varsity sports coaches, would you like to nominate one of your players to be an American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performer of the Week? Email your nomination to News-Leader high school sports reporter Rance Burger (rburger@news-leader.com) by 5 p.m. each Monday.

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

    American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week


    tdunhamusatodayHillcrest's Erik Savage gains some yardage as his team played host to Parkview in Springfield on September 29, 2016.American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the WeektdunhamusatodayHillcrest's Erik Savage gains some yardage as his team played host to Parkview in Springfield on September 29, 2016.American Family Insurance ALL-USA Ozarks Performers of the Week

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    Glendale junior quarterback Alex Huston (7) and the Falcons are the No. 3-ranked Missouri Class 5 football team for a second consecutive week.

    Glendale junior quarterback Alex Huston (7) and the Falcons are the No. 3-ranked Missouri Class 5 football team for a second consecutive week.

    High school football rankings are determined by the vote of a 14-member panel of sports reporters from across Missouri. First-place votes received are listed in parenthesis.

    CLASS 6

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. CBC (11), 6-1, 133, 1

    2. Blue Springs (3), 6-1, 130, 2

    3. Kirkwood, 5-1, 108, 3

    4. Rockhurst, 5-1, 92, 4

    5. Hazelwood Central, 7-0, 71, 6

    6. Lee’s Summit, 6-1, 69, 7

    7. Jefferson City, 5-2, 68, 5

    8. Kickapoo, 6-1, 37, 8

    9. Eureka, 6-1, 29, 10

    10. Lee’s Summit West, 5-2, 20, NR

    Dropped out: No. 8 Blue Springs South

    Also receiving votes:  Blue Springs South (4-3), 4; Raymore-Peculiar (4-3), 4; Ritenour (6-1), 3; Park Hill (4-3), 2

    CLASS 5

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Chaminade (13), 5-1, 139, 1

    2. Battle (1), 7-0, 124, 2

    3. Glendale, 7-0, 110, 3

    4. Fort Zumwalt North, 6-1, 102, 4

    5. William Chrisman, 7-0, 81, 5

    6. Park Hill South, 6-1, 68, 6

    7. Staley, 5-2, 54, 8

    8. Carthage, 6-1, 41, 9

    9. Jackson, 6-1, 25, 10

    10. Liberty, 5-2, 21, 7

    Also receiving votes:  Vianney (3-4), 3; Nixa (5-2), 2

    CLASS 4

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Kearney (14), 7-0, 140, 1

    2. Hannibal, 6-1, 120, 2

    3. Platte County, 5-2, 107, 3

    4. Carl Junction, 5-2, 89, 5

    5. Parkway North, 5-2, 85, 6

    6. St. Dominic, 7-0, 72, 7

    7. Ladue, 6-1, 55, 8

    8. Webb City, 4-3, 41, 4

    9. Hillsboro, 7-0, 37, 9

    10. MICDS, 5-2, 14, NR

    Dropped out: No. 10 Smithville

    Also receiving votes:  Smithville (6-1), 10

    CLASS 3

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Maryville (13), 7-0, 139, 1

    2. Blair Oaks (1), 7-0, 127, 2

    3. Center, 7-0, 106, 3

    4. Monett, 6-1, 93, 4

    5. McCluer South-Berkley, 6-0, 79, 5

    6. Richmond, 7-0, 70, 7

    7. Park Hills Central, 7-0, 63, 7

    8. Mexico, 5-2, 48, 8

    9. Osage, 6-1, 14, 9

    10. Reeds Spring, 6-1, 13, NR

    Dropped out: No. 10 John Burroughs

    Also receiving votes: Miller Career (6-1), 7; Lutheran South (5-2), 6; Chillicothe (6-1), 4; Owensville (7-0), 1

    CLASS 2

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Lamar (14), 6-0, 140, 1

    2. Mtn. View-Liberty, 7-0, 126, 2

    3. Trinity, 6-0, 106, 3

    4. Lutheran North, 6-1, 91, T4

    5. Mountain Grove, 6-1, 88, 6

    6. Malden, 7-0, 75, 7

    7. Fair Grove, 7-0, 45, 8

    8. Macon, 7-0, 40, 10

    9. Centralia, 5-2, 19, T4

    10. Lexington, 7-0, 16, NR

    Dropped out: No. 9 Lawson

    Also receiving votes:  South Callaway (7-0), 12; Lawson (5-2), 11; Palmyra (5-2), 1

    CLASS 1

    Rank, team, Rec., Pts., LW

    1. Valle Catholic (9), 6-1, 134, 1

    2. Marceline (5), 7-0, 129, 2

    3. Hamilton-Penney, 7-0, 114, 3

    4. Lincoln, 7-0, 98, 4

    5. Hayti, 6-1, 80, 5

    6. Maysville, 6-1, 68, 6

    7. Cass-Midway, 6-1, 50, 7

    8. Wellington-Napoleon, 6-1, 37, 8

    9. East Buchanan, 5-2, 25, 9

    10. Skyline, 4-3, 14, NR

    Dropped out: No. 10 Thayer

    Also receiving votes:  Lockwood (6-1), 10; Monroe City (5-2), 7; Westran (5-2), 2; Ash Grove (6-1), 1; Thayer (4-3), 1


    tdunhamusatodayGlendale junior quarterback Alex Huston (7) and the Falcons are the No. 3-ranked Missouri Class 5 football team for a second consecutive week.tdunhamusatodayGlendale junior quarterback Alex Huston (7) and the Falcons are the No. 3-ranked Missouri Class 5 football team for a second consecutive week.

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    The Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.

    The Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.

    While Ozark and Nixa fans hope to see their football teams put up points, Christian County’s only full-service food pantry hopes to see fans put up dollars.

    Tons of canned food would also be nice.

    Christian County’s largest food drive has two names. In Nixa, it’s the Can the Tigers food drive, but in Ozark it’s known as the Can the Eagles food drive. Last year, the two communities drummed up 59,500 pounds of food for Least of These food pantry.

    “It is our largest food drive of the year, so it’s a huge help,” Least of These executive director Bonnie Schooler said. “It’s at the right time of the year when we’re gearing up for the holidays, which is our busiest time of the year.”

    The food pantry, which is located in Nixa but serves families all over Christian County, serves almost 800 families per month. Least of These distributed nearly 500,000 pounds of food in 2015. The organization also assists families with clothing, furniture and hygiene items.

    Since Nixa and Ozark will compete with each other in just about anything, the last nine meetings between the Tigers and the Eagles in football coincided with food drives. This year, both teams are 5-2 headed into the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    The cheerleading squads from both teams took on the food drives as a civic project. Nixa won last year’s drive with 31,280 pounds of food.

    “It’s great because it gets the whole community involved, the elementary schools, the middle schools, the high schools and everybody,” Schooler said. “It’s neat to see the kids get excited about something that’s helping the community.”

    Game of the Week: pair of 5-2 teams clash in rivalry

    Least of These is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization. They rely on donations of food, cash, clothing, foundation grants and free government food commodities to assist struggling families. The food pantry serves almost 800 families every month, and about half of the people the organization serves are children under 18 or adults older than 60.

    Football fans will be able to donate canned goods or cash at Friday night’s game at Ozark’s Tiger Stadium. The winning donors will be announced at halftime.

    Schooler hopes this year’s food drive will produce a result similar to last year’s 59,500 pounds of food.

    “That’s just a little over a month’s worth of food,” Schooler said.

    The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.

    The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.

    Least of These took on 61 new families in September. Schooler expects the monthly average of 800 families to climb to 900 by December.

    “It’s a yearly trend. Usually we see our highest numbers in late November and early December,” Schooler said. “It is starting to trend up early, but a lot of times as people start thinking about the holidays and having enough money to do anything for Christmas, they start seeking out services.”

    Families in need are able to access the services of the pantry once a month. In addition to receiving a five-day supply of food, they can take advantage of couponing classes, a free clothing closet, and they can receive hygiene and cleaning supplies four times a year.

    The University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security annually publishes the Missouri Hunger Atlas, a county-by-county report on hunger in Missouri. According to the 2016 Missouri Food Atlas, 13.4 percent of Christian County residents are “food uncertain” and 22.5 percent of Christian County residents are eligible for food stamps.

    An estimated 37.9 percent of children who attend school in Christian County are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Finally, 9,762 people in Christian County live below the poverty level.

    All of these percentages are low in relation to other Missouri counties, but Least of These is never short of people seeking help.

    “It kind of ebbs and flows, but the overall trend year-to-year seems to keep creeping up. Part of that is people learning that we are here, finding out that there are services,” Schooler said.

    News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Nixa (5-2) at Ozark (5-2)

    Friday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

    Tiger Stadium

    1350 West Bluff Drive, Ozark

    http://LeastofTheseFoodPantry.org


    tdunhamusatodayThe Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.tdunhamusatodayThe Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.

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    The Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.

    The Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.

    While Ozark and Nixa fans hope to see their football teams put up points, Christian County’s only full-service food pantry hopes to see fans put up dollars.

    Tons of canned food would also be nice.

    Christian County’s largest food drive has two names. In Nixa, it’s the Can the Tigers food drive, but in Ozark it’s known as the Can the Eagles food drive. Last year, the two communities drummed up 59,500 pounds of food for Least of These food pantry.

    “It is our largest food drive of the year, so it’s a huge help,” Least of These executive director Bonnie Schooler said. “It’s at the right time of the year when we’re gearing up for the holidays, which is our busiest time of the year.”

    The food pantry, which is located in Nixa but serves families all over Christian County, serves almost 800 families per month. Least of These distributed nearly 500,000 pounds of food in 2015. The organization also assists families with clothing, furniture and hygiene items.

    Since Nixa and Ozark will compete with each other in just about anything, the last nine meetings between the Tigers and the Eagles in football coincided with food drives. This year, both teams are 5-2 headed into the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    The cheerleading squads from both teams took on the food drives as a civic project. Nixa won last year’s drive with 31,280 pounds of food.

    “It’s great because it gets the whole community involved, the elementary schools, the middle schools, the high schools and everybody,” Schooler said. “It’s neat to see the kids get excited about something that’s helping the community.”

    Game of the Week: pair of 5-2 teams clash in rivalry

    Least of These is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization. They rely on donations of food, cash, clothing, foundation grants and free government food commodities to assist struggling families. The food pantry serves almost 800 families every month, and about half of the people the organization serves are children under 18 or adults older than 60.

    Football fans will be able to donate canned goods or cash at Friday night’s game at Ozark’s Tiger Stadium. The winning donors will be announced at halftime.

    Schooler hopes this year’s food drive will produce a result similar to last year’s 59,500 pounds of food.

    “That’s just a little over a month’s worth of food,” Schooler said.

    The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.

    The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.

    Least of These took on 61 new families in September. Schooler expects the monthly average of 800 families to climb to 900 by December.

    “It’s a yearly trend. Usually we see our highest numbers in late November and early December,” Schooler said. “It is starting to trend up early, but a lot of times as people start thinking about the holidays and having enough money to do anything for Christmas, they start seeking out services.”

    Families in need are able to access the services of the pantry once a month. In addition to receiving a five-day supply of food, they can take advantage of couponing classes, a free clothing closet, and they can receive hygiene and cleaning supplies four times a year.

    The University of Missouri Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security annually publishes the Missouri Hunger Atlas, a county-by-county report on hunger in Missouri. According to the 2016 Missouri Food Atlas, 13.4 percent of Christian County residents are “food uncertain” and 22.5 percent of Christian County residents are eligible for food stamps.

    An estimated 37.9 percent of children who attend school in Christian County are eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Finally, 9,762 people in Christian County live below the poverty level.

    All of these percentages are low in relation to other Missouri counties, but Least of These is never short of people seeking help.

    “It kind of ebbs and flows, but the overall trend year-to-year seems to keep creeping up. Part of that is people learning that we are here, finding out that there are services,” Schooler said.

    News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Nixa (5-2) at Ozark (5-2)

    Friday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

    Tiger Stadium

    1350 West Bluff Drive, Ozark

    http://LeastofTheseFoodPantry.org


    tdunhamusatodayThe Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.tdunhamusatodayThe Nixa Eagles and the Ozark Tigers collide on the high school gridiron and in an annual donation drive for Least of These food pantry.The ninth annual Can the Tigers, Can the Eagles food drive competition generated almost two months of worth of food for Least of These.

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    A team of defending state champions will be on the Ozark sideline Friday night when the Tigers host rival Nixa for a football game.

    Ozark senior cheerleader Hallie Mayes (center) starts a tumbling pass during a practice Oct. 5 at Ozark Middle School.

    Ozark senior cheerleader Hallie Mayes (center) starts a tumbling pass during a practice Oct. 5 at Ozark Middle School.

    That’s because they are cheerleaders.

    The 2015 state champions win their contests with tumbling passes, precisely timed skill and stunts that send cheerleaders soaring far higher than a basketball hoop, or even the top of the backboard. Just like a football team, Ozark’s cheerleaders work at their craft and their abilities.

    “Any extra time we have at the end of practice we use to condition to make us stronger for state,” senior Hallie Mayes said. “You have to have the coordination to be able to hold a girl in the air, and if you are the girl in the air, which is the flier, you have to be tight and have a good sense of balance.”

    Broken elbows, concussions and sprained ankles and wrists are part of it too, but it all seemed worth it when Ozark won the Class 4 Large Division title at the 2015 Missouri Cheerleading Coaches Association championships.

    The 2016 championships will be held Nov. 4-5 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, and the Tigers plan to defend their title.

    “The feeling of winning state is like no other. I’d do anything to get that feeling back. Even watching videos of back then just brings that feeling back,” Mayes said.

    Senior flier Kate Moeller wants to go out a winner.

    “Winning last year, we know the feeling, so getting that feeling again would be amazing,” Moeller said. “We’re perfectionists. We want to go and do the best that we can do.”

    Just like Ozark’s football team (5-2), the cheerleaders are excited to go up against Nixa.

    “It’s really exciting. It’s our biggest game of the year,” Moeller said. “It’s a lot of hype throughout the week at school and at practices.”

    Tigers and Eagles try to can each other for charity

    Years of cheerleading helped the girls cultivate some football knowledge.

    “We’ve been doing this since seventh grade, so we’ve basically learned the game of football,” Mayes said.

    Ozark enters the game having knocked off perennial power Webb City on the road last week.

    “’It’s a great thing for us coming off that win to come into Nixa week, since it’s our biggest game,” Mayes said.

    Ozark High School cheerleaders won the 2015 Class 4 state championship and look to defend it in November.

    Ozark High School cheerleaders won the 2015 Class 4 state championship and look to defend it in November.

    Tumbling skill is required to make Ozark’s varsity cheer squad. Coach Jennifer Clark is in her ninth season with the Tigers.

    “They say cheerleading is not a sport, and I challenge them to come in and try what we’re doing. These girls train like athletes, they go to strength and conditioning two days a week, we practice three days a week,” Clark said. “They’re in the weight room just like all of the other athletes trying to make themselves better.”

    A competition routine lasts three minutes. The first minute consists of cheers, and the final two minutes are stunts and tumbling routines set to music. A team of judges then scores the routine based on its degree of difficulty and execution. Ozark’s routine, if perfectly executed, is devised to generate maximum points.

    “You have to have the difficulty, but you also have to be able to execute the skills clean,” Clark said.

    Fans can see snippets of Ozark’s competition routine on Friday night.

    Ozark High School cheerleaders practice before a game against Nixa at Ozark Middle School.

    Ozark High School cheerleaders practice before a game against Nixa at Ozark Middle School.

    “A lot of our stunts and skills that we do at games are from our competition routine. We actually use games as a performance practice, because they’re in front of a crowd so it gives them the opportunity to practice those skills in front of a crowd,” Clark said.

    On the football field, the cheerleaders feel Ozark will have great chances to win Friday at Tiger Stadium in the News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    “I think if (the Tigers) work together as a team like they’ve been doing the last couple of weeks, they’ll be fine,” Moeller said.

    The cheerleaders may not know it, but the Christian County rivalry puts their coach in a tight spot, though she insists she is pulling for the Tigers.

    “We cheer hard at every single game, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. Of course, when it’s Nixa, we always want to win even more,” Clark, a former Nixa cheerleader, said.

    News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Nixa (5-2) at Ozark (5-2)

    Friday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

    Tiger Stadium

    1350 West Bluff Drive, Ozark


    tdunhamusatodayOzark senior cheerleader Hallie Mayes (center) starts a tumbling pass during a practice Oct. 5 at Ozark Middle School.Ozark High School cheerleaders won the 2015 Class 4 state championship and look to defend it in November.Ozark High School cheerleaders practice before a game against Nixa at Ozark Middle School.tdunhamusatodayOzark senior cheerleader Hallie Mayes (center) starts a tumbling pass during a practice Oct. 5 at Ozark Middle School.Ozark High School cheerleaders won the 2015 Class 4 state championship and look to defend it in November.Ozark High School cheerleaders practice before a game against Nixa at Ozark Middle School.

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    Friday, Oct. 7

    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorstdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

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    Ozark senior quarterback Jack Hulse stood on the sideline overcome with smiles.

    The Tigers had just beaten rival Nixa, and done so in fairy-tale fashion, 28-27 in double overtime. Hulse led two 25-yard scoring drives in overtime and finished the game with two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown to Cameron Robertson.

    Hulse’s thoughts were all over the Tiger Stadium, but they were joyful.

    “That was the most stressful game of my life, I was praying. I don’t even know—it was just awesome. (Nixa) played incredible and it was a great game, and I’m just so happy to come out on top,” Hulse said. “It’s amazing. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

    Nixa pulled within a point of Ozark in the second overtime session on a 14-yard play action pass for a touchdown from quarterback Andrew Rivera to Aiden Farthing. An extra point kick would have forced a third overtime, but Nixa opted to go for two points and the win.

    “It didn’t surprise me. If you’re going to (go for two), that was the time to do it,” Ozark coach Chad Depee said.

    Nixa coach Richard Rehagen explained his decision to go for the win.

    “I thought our football team was tired. I really did. I thought our defense was tired. I felt like it was an opportunity right there. You’re three yards from it, take the chance, see how it goes,” Rehagen said.

    Ozark’s defense broke up a pass in the south end zone, and the Tigers went crazy in celebration.

    Junior linebacker Blake Andela was in the vicinity when the football hit the turf for an incompletion. Andela explained that when regulation time ended with the score tied at 14-14, Ozark’s coaches encouraged their defense.

    “They just said to trust each other. Do your job and just go play football, that’s what we did,” Andela said. “I was so nervous.”

    Tigers kicker Chandler Doss scored the game-winning point on an extra point in the second overtime. Doss was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points.

    Ozark High School defensive back Reed Herrold (26) tackles Eagles kick returner Tru Atkins (83) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Ozark High School defensive back Reed Herrold (26) tackles Eagles kick returner Tru Atkins (83) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Ozark improves to 6-2 with wins over Nixa, Webb City, Carthage and Carl Junction to its credit. It’s a turnaround from 2015, Depee’s first year with the program, when Ozark went 1-9.

    “We grew a lot. We worked harder than last year, we’re just a better team overall,” Andela said.

    Depee, who previously coached at Monett, admitted to searching his soul this past offseason.

    “There are times you’re sitting up after the year and you question everything you do,” Depee said. “The only thing I didn’t question was our kids are good kids and they’re going to work hard.”

    Depee credited Ozark’s players for avoiding discouragement and for sticking with the flex bone offense and 3-5 defense he installed upon arrival.

    “That’s been the coolest thing about this group of guys here — from the first of the year on, it’s just been, ‘OK, what do we need to do, Coach? All right, we’re going to run this defense? Cool. We run this offense? Cool. Let’s got to work,’” Depee said.

    Nixa (5-3) won the turnover battle with two fumble recoveries on punts, but only one turnover led to points when Nicos Oropeza scored on a two-yard dive play on the Eagles’ opening drive.

    “Every opportunity is big in close games, every opportunity. Every mistake is big. Every opportunity that you have is big, you’ve got to make the most of them,” Rehagen said.

    Oropeza finished with 52 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It’s the third consecutive loss for the Eagles.

    Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) runs in between Tiger defenders for a touchdown during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) runs in between Tiger defenders for a touchdown during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    “I’m feeling for all of them, because I know what our football team just put out,” Rehagen said. “We took a step from the last few weeks, so I’m real proud of our kids’ effort.”

    Nixa wraps up the regular season on Friday, Oct. 14. The Eagles will host Carthage. Ozark wraps up the regular season the same night at Tiger Stadium with Bolivar coming to town.

    The 10th annual Can the Tigers/Can the Eagles food drive tied to the game set a record with 84,881 pounds of food donated to Least of These, a full-service food pantry in Christian County.

    Ozark 28, Nixa 27

    At Tiger Stadium, Ozark

    Nixa 7-0-7-0-7-6—27

    Ozark 0-7-7-0-7-7—28

    First quarter

    Nixa—Nicos Oropeza 2-yard run (Sean Sample kick)

    Second quarter

    Ozark0—Jack Hulse 3-yard run (Chandler Doss kick)

    Third quarter

    Nixa—Oropeza 5-yard run (Sample kick)

    Ozark—Nathaniel Burlage 33-yard run (Doss kick)

    Fourth quarter

    None

    Overtime

    Nixa—Andrew Rivera 1-yard run (Sample kick)

    Ozark—Cameron Robertson 22-yard pass from Hulse (Doss kick)

    Double-overtime

    Ozark—Hulse 1-yard run (Doss kick)

    Nixa—Aiden Farthing 14-yard pass from Rivera (pass failed)

     

    Ozartk High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) scans the field during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Ozartk High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) scans the field during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) stiff arms Tigers defensive back Preston Carson (4) during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) stiff arms Tigers defensive back Preston Carson (4) during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Ozark High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) throws a pass during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Ozark High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) throws a pass during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Nixa High School running back Aiden Farthing (27) tries to elude a tackle by Tiger defensive back Reed Herrold (26) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Nixa High School running back Aiden Farthing (27) tries to elude a tackle by Tiger defensive back Reed Herrold (26) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Nixa High School linebacker Alec Deveney (20), linebacker Brendan Beckley (11) and defensive back Ben Howard (3) celebrate after Beckley recovered a fumble during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    Nixa High School linebacker Alec Deveney (20), linebacker Brendan Beckley (11) and defensive back Ben Howard (3) celebrate after Beckley recovered a fumble during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.


    tdunhamusatodayOzark High School defensive back Reed Herrold (26) tackles Eagles kick returner Tru Atkins (83) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) runs in between Tiger defenders for a touchdown during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Ozartk High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) scans the field during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) stiff arms Tigers defensive back Preston Carson (4) during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Ozark High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) throws a pass during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School running back Aiden Farthing (27) tries to elude a tackle by Tiger defensive back Reed Herrold (26) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School linebacker Alec Deveney (20), linebacker Brendan Beckley (11) and defensive back Ben Howard (3) celebrate after Beckley recovered a fumble during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.tdunhamusatodayOzark High School defensive back Reed Herrold (26) tackles Eagles kick returner Tru Atkins (83) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) runs in between Tiger defenders for a touchdown during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Ozartk High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) scans the field during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School running back Nicos Oropeza (32) stiff arms Tigers defensive back Preston Carson (4) during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Ozark High School quarterback Jack Hulse (6) throws a pass during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School running back Aiden Farthing (27) tries to elude a tackle by Tiger defensive back Reed Herrold (26) during first quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.Nixa High School linebacker Alec Deveney (20), linebacker Brendan Beckley (11) and defensive back Ben Howard (3) celebrate after Beckley recovered a fumble during second quarter action of the game between Nixa High School and Ozark High School held at Tiger Stadium in Ozark, Mo. on Oct. 7, 2016.

    0 0

    Glendale High School’s football team drew national attention from USA Today a week ago.

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    News-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, Realtors

    On Friday night, the Camdenton Lakers stand in Glendale’s way of a perfect 9-0 regular season.

    A Glendale win would make the Falcons the 22nd team in the history of Springfield Public Schools football to win nine or more games in the season. Glendale last won nine games in 1996.

    Glendale (8-0) junior quarterback Alex Huston appears to lead the nation in passing, according to a recent piece in USA Today. Huston has passed for 3,930 yards and 48 touchdowns through eight games. Senior Luke Montgomery leads the Falcons with 61 receptions for 1,368 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Alex Huston, nation’s leading passer as a sophomore, picking up right where he left off

    Glendale High School linebacker Carson Liston (45) and defensive back Nick Austin (10) celebrate after a defensive stop during first quarter action of the Falcons game against West Plains High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 2, 2016.

    Glendale High School linebacker Carson Liston (45) and defensive back Nick Austin (10) celebrate after a defensive stop during first quarter action of the Falcons game against West Plains High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 2, 2016.

    The Ozark Conference’s top team hosts Camdenton in the Springfield News-Leader Game of the Week presented by Murney Associates, Realtors.

    Camdenton enters Friday’s game at Glendale 6-2 and fresh off its program’s induction in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. In 57 seasons of football, Camdenton celebrated 54 winning seasons and five state championships.

    Thirty-six of iconic coach Bob Shore’s 44 seasons were spent at Camdenton. Shore retired in 2010 with an all-time career record of 367-98-3. Shore’s retirement led to the promotion of his son, former Lakers quarterback Jeff Shore.

    Six members of Camdenton’s coaching staff are former Lakers who played for Bob Shore.

    The Lakers have used a two-quarterback offensive system this season with Dyllan Decker and Isaiah Lumley splitting snaps in the backfield. Running back Jay Griffin leads the Camdenton offense with 983 yards and 14 touchdowns on 148 rushing attempts.

    News-Leader Game of the Week

    Presented by Murney Associates, Realtors

    Camdenton (6-2) at Glendale (8-0)

    Friday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m.

    Lowe Stadium, Glendale High School

    2727 South Ingram Mill Road, Springfield


    tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsGlendale High School linebacker Carson Liston (45) and defensive back Nick Austin (10) celebrate after a defensive stop during first quarter action of the Falcons game against West Plains High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 2, 2016.tdunhamusatodayNews-Leader Game of the Week brought to you by Murney Associates, RealtorsGlendale High School linebacker Carson Liston (45) and defensive back Nick Austin (10) celebrate after a defensive stop during first quarter action of the Falcons game against West Plains High School at Lowe Stadium in Springfield, Mo. on Sept. 2, 2016.

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