Past doesn’t matter to Helias against Kirksville (with PODCAST)
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Last year, Helias opened district play with a 54-7 victory against Kirksville.
Earlier this season, Kirksville lost 33-32 to Marshall. That’s the same Marshall team Helias romped past 69-14 last Thursday.
Helias is ignoring all of that as the Crusaders prepare to take on the Kirksville Tigers in the Class 4 District 6 semifinals tonight at Adkins Stadium.
“What happened last year doesn’t mean anything because they’re doing different things on offense and defense,” Helias coach Phil Pitts said. “If anything, it will be a motivation for them because it’s a chance to show how far they’ve come in a year as a football team.
“And don’t read much into the loss to Marshall because Kirksville was missing a lot of its best players because of injuries.”
One number the Crusaders (8-2, ranked No. 3 in Class 4) are paying attention to is five. As in, the Tigers (6-4) will bring a five-game winning streak into the 7 p.m. contest in their first plus-.500 season in a decade.
“They’ve built a pretty good program up there and have done a very good job of turning things around,” Pitts said. “We know they’re going to come in with a lot of confidence, we going to be in for a good challenge.”
Defense has been a key to Kirksville’s winning ways as the Tigers have allowed an average of a little more than 12 points in the five straight victories.
Inside linebackers Nathan Farnsworth (6-2, 225 sr.) and Kade Proctor (6-2, 225 sr.) lead the Tigers in tackles with a combined 28 stops per contest.
“They make a lot of tackles, sideline to sideline,” Pitts said. “They are all over the football field.”
Makenna Cook (6-1, 190 jr.) provides the Tiger defense a strong speed element at outside linebacker with team-high totals of five sacks and seven tackles for loss.
“He really attacks off the edge.” Pitts said.
Kirksville, which operates out of a 3-4 formation, will be trying to slow a school-record setting Helias offense. The Crusaders are averaging more than 410 yards and 45 points per game.
Pitts said it starts up front with the outstanding play of the offensive line.
“The guys up front have done a great job all season in pass protecting and run blocking.” he said. “To set that record with the schedule we play shows how well they played all season.”
The Tigers are averaging more than 360 yards and 25 points per game out of a spread attack.
Cook is the Kirksville quarterback and he has been strong with his arm and his legs this season. He has thrown for seven touchdowns and run for four more.
“He’s dynamic, when things break down, he can still make plays,” Pitts said. “We thought he was their best player last year and he can do a lot with the football in his hands.”
Farnsworth, a tight end, is his favorite target with 22 catches (13.1 avg.) and five scores.
Blake Riley (5-10, 180 sr.) leads the Tigers with 919 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Crusaders are giving up a little under 15 points per contest.
“Kirksville has been competitive this season and we expect a fight,” Pitts said.
Notes: Moberly (10-0) will host Hannibal (7-3) in the other District 6 game tonight. The district title game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday. With a win tonight, Helias would host that game. ... The District 5 champion will host the District 6 winner in the quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 16. In District 5 games tonight, top-seeded St. Charles West (8-2) hosts Gateway Tech (3-7) and second-seeded Clayton (5-5) hosts University City (2-8). ... Kirksville does not kick extra points, the Tigers attempt 2-point conversions after touchdowns. ... After opening with a win against Southern Boone, Kirksville dropped four straight games before rattling off its five consecutive victories. ... Pitts said the Crusaders are healthy for tonight’s game.
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