When Oak Grove lines up against visiting Maryville in today’s 1:30 p.m. Class 3 state quarterfinal, it will see a team with a unique nickname – Spoofhounds – but one that plays a brand of football quite familiar to the Panthers.
“They do things the right way. We’re very similar teams, just the way both teams play the game,” said Oak Grove coach Pat Richard, whose fourth-ranked team takes an 11-1 record into its matchup with the top-ranked defending state champions. “It’s physical, fast, hit-you-in-the-mouth type football.”
Richard said Maryville (12-0), which is in this third season under coach Matt Webb but also won a state title in 2009 under Chris Holt, is the type of program he hopes Oak Grove can emulate.
“What a great opportunity to see how good we are,” said Richard, whose team is coming off a 42-0 win over Hogan Prep in Monday’s Class 3 District 7 final.
“Saturday is such a challenge. They’re on a 27-game win streak; they’re so well-coached and well-disciplined, athletic. The good thing is, they’ve got to come down here where we’ve had great success, and I know our town will come out and support us.”
It will be the fourth time the schools have met, but the first time in 10 years. Oak Grove managed a 3-0 win in 1983 for a sectional championship, and Maryville recorded wins of 37-6 and 39-0 in 2002-03.
Webb’s version of the Spoofhounds attacks with wing-T offense piloted by quarterback Trent Nally. Running backs Brody McMahon, Payden Dawson, Trent Dredge and Dakota Beemer have helped Maryville average 39.6 points. Their closest game was an 18-16 victory over St. Joseph LeBlond in week 4, and they beat Cameron 42-14 Monday for the District 8 title.
“They have linemen with good size and great backs,” Richard said. “The quarterback’s not a passer, but he’s had a big year running the ball.
“Defensively, it’s hard to get them to blow a coverage.”
Maryville’s defense, which has yielded just 9.3 points, will try to slow an Oak Grove offense that averages 45 points and 356 rushing yards. The Panthers haven’t scored less than 40 since a 26-22 loss to Class 4 Pleasant Hill in Week 6. The Roosters shared the MRVC West title with the Panthers and finished 11-1.
“I think that kind of woke us up,” Richard said of the Pleasant Hill game.
Aaron Graham (1,332 yards, 8.7 per carry, 13 touchdowns) and Ethan Fugitt (1,266 yards, 10.3 per carry, 18 TDs) give the Panthers two breakaway threats in the backfield, while fullback Tyler Brown has added 606 yards and 10 scores and quarterback Austin Blackston has chipped in 235 yards.
When the Panthers go to the air, Blackston has hit less than 50 percent, but the completions go a long way (41 for 1,104 yards) and he’s thrown for 13 touchdowns against just one interception. Tanner Kanak (18 catches, 552 yards) Graham (10 for 354) and Drew Phillips (9 for 179) are the prime targets.
Fugitt, at middle linebacker, leads the Panther defense with 91 tackles, while ends Tandy Hall (6 sacks) and Skyler Hulse have combined for 37 tackles for loss.