Editor's Note: Follow News Tribune sports writer @tony_hawley on Twitter for updates on scoring during tonight's game.
WARDSVILLE, Mo. - With the postseason starting today, every game going forward is a do-or-die situation. And Blair Oaks football coach Brad Drehle wants the Falcons to adopt a sense of urgency when it comes to taking care of business.
To that end, a big win last week against Eldon and an 8-1 record in the regular season are definitely in the team's rear-view mirror.
"I think the guys were a little disappointed with me (Monday), they came in after a big win and coach sits down and picks apart some of the things we did wrong," Drehle said. "But our point in practice this week is, "Yeah, we're doing some good things, but the goal is not to be almost right, the goal is to be exactly right.'
"We're doing some things where we're almost right and being able to overcome those things because we're playing so fast. But as we move down the road every week, each team you face is going to be better, and better, and better, and better. So in order to handle that, we've got to be better."
But Drehle was quick to acknowledge the Falcons have come a long way since they entered the season with a young, largely untested roster.
"We've got a lot of young kids that aren't afraid to have success," Drehle said. "And it sounds funny to say, but the reason they have that is the seniors have allowed them the freedom to do that. We've had other classes where the seniors weren't willing to share that spotlight. This group is, and that says an awful lot about their character.
"It's not an easy thing to do. If you're a senior and you've worked your (behind) off for four years and you pick up the paper and they're talking about a sophomore, that's not an easy thing to deal with. ... But guys like Haydn Lock and Hayden Haney and Corbin Singer and Collin Luebbering and J.J. Kresl, all the seniors, that's how they are. ... There's no jealousy, there's no push-pull on anything. It's, "We're winning, it's Blair Oaks, it's us that's winning.'"
The Falcons will take on another young team when they begin district play against Father Tolton (2-7) at 7 p.m. today at the Falcon Athletic Complex. The teams met in the same scenario last year, with the Falcons opening districts with a 68-13 rout of the Trailblazers.
"They're progressing," Drehle said. "But it's hard to measure. Until we get them out here and get them live, it's hard to say how much they have progressed. ... When you watch them, they're not making some of the silly mistakes they made a year ago.
"Their kids are in better position, they're in better stances. You can tell there's been a teaching aspect that's gone along with it. ... Their entire team is back, so just repetition alone will make you better. Confidence is something they're fighting with. They've been able to pick up two wins this season, where they had just one last year and I'm not sure they scored very many points last year (90 in eight games)."
The big weapon for the Trailblazers is junior quarterback Christian Elliott, who has rushed for more than 800 yards and thrown for more than 500.
"It all runs through the quarterback, he's their guy," Drehle said. "He's a two-year starter who's taken every rep since he walked into the program. He's just gradually getting better and better. He's throwing the ball with more confidence this year than what he did a year ago."
Drehle added Tolton has gone through stretches where it plays very well for spurts.
"They show flashes," he said. "You can watch two or three plays, and it's like, "Wow.' Then you take a couple more plays where it's not quite there."
Tolton's only win against a varsity program was a 58-6 rout of Missouri Military Academy. The Trailblazers' other victory was a 41-0 win against Harrisburg, competing as a JV team during a transition period to a varsity program.
Tolton's losses have come to Valle Catholic (56-0), Southern Boone (32-28), Westran (59-7), Tipton (20-13), Marionville (47-6), South Callaway (48-0) and Sedalia Sacred Heart (41-7).