Blair Oaks prepares for triple threat from Southern Boone (with PODCAST)

Haydn Lock of Blair Oaks breaks an attempted tackle on his way to a touchdown during a game earlier this month against Owensville in Wardsville, Mo..

Haydn Lock of Blair Oaks breaks an attempted tackle on his way to a touchdown during a game earlier this month against Owensville in Wardsville, Mo.. Photo by News Tribune.

WARDSVILLE, Mo. — A lot of weeks, the Blair Oaks defense concerns itself with stopping one particular player on the opposing team.

This time around, the Falcons are worrying about a three-headed monster.

When Blair Oaks welcomes Southern Boone to the Falcon Athletic Complex at 7 p.m. Friday, the Eagles will bring in a three-pronged attack.

The first part of the attack is senior running back David Holland, who has 55 carries for 381 yards (6.9 avg.) and four touchdowns as well as nine catches for 138 yards and one score.

“The big key for us is locating (Holland) on the field,” Blair Oaks coach Brad Drehle said. “We’ve played good kids before and it’s a case of you know where he’s at, but can you stop him? That’s the thing.

“It’s one of th ose deals where it’s not one person. We’re going to have to get to the football and gang-tackle. Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty, it will be just get there and hang on and let the troops arrive.”

The other two big weapons for the Eagles are junior running back Jade Taggart and sophomore wide receiver Grant Anderson, who have combined for 326 yards rushing and 78 yards receiving.

“Between those three kids, you’ve made up 85 percent of their offense,” Drehle said.

When they go to the air, those Eagles will be catching passes from senior quarterback Brice Mueller.

“He does a great job,” Drehle said. “... He’ll throw the ball 50 yards down the field and he throws a good ball. He’ll force us to prepare for that.”

One thing Blair Oaks (2-1, 1-0 Tri-County Conference) will need to slow down Southern Boone (1-2, 0-1) is improved tackling.

“We’re not tackling very well yet,” Drehle said. “We’re not doing a very good job of staying on our feet. We’re stopping our feet or we’re dropping to our knees when we make contact.

“We’ve got to finish our tackles and that’s been part of our conversations (in practice). ... Our kids are aggressive. It’s not like we’re not throwing our bodies in there and hitting people, it’s just that we’re not finishing.”

It hasn’t hurt the Falcons’ run defense. When the starters have played the past two games, they’ve given up just 50 yards rushing on 81 carries. Included in that is one featured performer who rushed 16 times for minus-one yard and another who carried the ball 19 times for 9 yards.

“Our coaches have done a good job of identifying (how to stop them) and the kids are studying and doing what they need to do,” Drehle said. “Practice time has been productive, and the end result is what you’ve seen on Friday night. It makes you feel good as a coach to know those guys are doing that.”

A good example of the power of preparation is Haydn Lock. With starting quarterback Jordan Hair dazed after a big sack, Lock led the Falcons on their final two drives, one of which went for a touchdown.

“When you can go from playing receiver and strong safety to lining up at quarterback without ever taking a snap, he jumps in there and goes, that says an awful lot about his focus,” Drehle said. “... He was just relaxed, that’s what I saw. A lot of times, you get kids in there who look like their hair’s on fire. He handled the situation, and for us going forward, that gives us a lot of confidence.”

Drehle added Hair could have returned, but with no danger of losing, there was no need.

“As a former quarterback, you get hit like that and your head goes to the ground, you get up and you can’t focus your eyes, you’ve got snot coming out of your nose and tears running out of your eyes,” he said. “You’re trying to focus and be that tough guy, but at the same time, you can’t breathe.

“It was tough and it shocked him a little bit, but he handled it well. He was a little frustrated we didn’t put him back in, but like we told him, ‘Jordan, the game’s in hand. We need to see if Haydn can do this anyway.’”

Things will be back to normal this week.

“Jordan’s a competitor,” Drehle said. “He was ready to go Friday and is ready to go now. I think you’ll see him step up and play well this Friday.”

Notes: Holland, Taggart and Anderson also lead the team on defense, as they’re part of a four-way tie for the team lead with 16 tackles apiece. Luke Wallace is the other Eagle in that group. ... Holland has Southern Boone’s only interception of the season. ... Southern Boone opened the season with a 40-26 loss to Kirksville before bouncing back to beat Tolton/Calvary 32-28. The Eagles then lost 45-20 to School of the Osage last Friday.

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