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Helias looks to bounce back against Sedalia Smith-Cotton (with PODCAST)

Helias looks to bounce back against Sedalia Smith-Cotton (with PODCAST)

September 5th, 2013 in News

Helias safety Jared Rackers breaks up a pass intended for Harrisonville's Brock Kliewer during their game at Adkins Stadium on Aug. 30, 2013.

Photo by Kris Wilson

After last year's one-point loss to Harrisonville to open the season, Helias rebounded with a resounding victory against Sedalia Smith-Cotton.

With the Crusaders hosting the Tigers on Saturday night at Adkins Stadium, Helias is looking for history to repeat itself for a second straight week.

"We sure hope it does," Helias coach Phil Pitts said. "As much time and hard work as we put into this, the only thing that's going to make us feel better is going out there and getting a win.

"One of the worst things about football is you only get to play once a week, so we've had a lot of time to think about what happened."

Last season in Sedalia, the Crusaders rolled to a 35-0 halftime lead in the rain and finished with a 29-point victory.

Smith-Cotton opened this season with a 41-0 loss at home to Nixa.

"We can't look at that score, Nixa's a very good football team and you can't learn anything by it," Pitts said.

The Tigers, who finished 2-8 last season, fell behind early in that game and were forced away from what they do best on offense in running the football.

"They're a little scary on offense because of their capability when it comes to running the football," Pitts said. "They didn't get a chance to show that against Nixa because they fell behind, but they have some very good players in the backfield."

The Tigers did some moving around the backfield this season. Dakota Brown, last year's quarterback, moved to running back, while last year's running back, Chance McMullin, is now the quarterback.

McMullin, who ran for more than 700 yards and totaled 10 touchdowns last year, has Helias' attention.

"He's fast when he gets to the edge," Pitts said. "He can take it a long way if you don't get to him early."

Defensively, the Tigers remain in a 4-4 formation.

"They don't bring a lot of pressure, but they like to run to the football and keep everything in front of them," Pitts said. "They're not going to give up the big play, we're going to have to drive the football."

Helias did a decent job of driving the football against Harrisonville, but also left points off the scoreboard when a pair of drives stalled deep in Wildcat territory.

"We did a lot of good things, in the first half, we played pretty well," Pitts said. "It's just a matter of building off that."

One highlight was the play of senior Brock Gerstner, who missed all of last season with an injury.

"We knew he'd be good, but he was better than we thought he'd be," Pitts said.

Gerstner caught seven passes for 145 yards and a score against Harrisonville.

"We have to get him more touches (this week)," Pitts said. "He created mismatches all night for their defense."

On the downside, Pitts thought the Crusaders "hit the wall" early in the second half.

"We hit it quickly, that's something we need to learn to fight through and get better at throughout the season," Pitts said. "It was one of those nights and probably something you don't want to overreact at."

One possible reason for it was repeated cramps suffered by a handful of Helias starters. That caused them to be off the field when Harrisonville scored its two touchdowns in the second half.

"When we had all of our horses, in there, we did a pretty good job against them," Pitts said.

With Saturday's game-time temperature expected to be around 90 degrees, cramps could be an issue again.

"We're going to do a better job with it," Pitts said. "It's something you have to deal with when you have kids playing both ways and we're working to make sure it doesn't happen as often."

Helias wants to learn from the defeat.

"When you schedule games like that against a tough opponent like that, somebody is going to come away with a loss," Pitts said. "We're going to be OK, we're going to get better because of that game and ultimately, that's what you want."

Game time is 7 p.m. Saturday.


Notes: On the injury front, Helias senior co-captain and starting offensive and defensive lineman Will Fife will miss Saturday's game with a shoulder injury. Pitts said the injury isn't serious and Fife will be out just as a precaution. Colton Ferguson will step in on offense for Fife, while Brody Buschjost will get the start on defense. ... Last week's game was the final in a four-year series against Harrisonville. Nixa, a Class 5 team, will be Helias' opening game next season. Smith-Cotton is also coming off next year's schedule, as is next week's opponent, Quincy (Ill.) Notre Dame. ... This is the first of five Saturday games for Helias this season.

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