WARDSVILLE, Mo. - For the Blair Oaks Falcons, the leadup to this year's game against Hallsville has an oddly similar feel to last year's game with the Indians.
The Falcons are hoping the deja vu continues on to include the final result.
Last year, Hallsville came into the game with Blair Oaks with a 2-0 record, averaging 41 points per contest after wins against Fayette and Paris.
This year, the Indians come into Friday's 7 p.m. showdown at Hallsville with a 2-0 record, averaging 41 points per game following wins over, yep, Fayette and Paris.
In 2012, the Falcons ended up taking the game by a 34-14 decision and Blair Oaks coach Brad Drehle wouldn't mind a similar result this time around.
"They're a football team that doesn't start a lot of seniors, so they're going to be similar to us as far as that goes," he said. "They're a little bit bigger, but everybody we play is going to be bigger. The matchup is interesting."
One thing Drehle would like to change is handling the ball against the Indians.
"They get in that funky kickoff and they dribble it here and there and we gave it back to them on three kickoffs last year," Drehle said. "So they gained three extra possessions. We've got to handle the kickoff, because if you handle it, you've got great field position.
"I don't think that's any secret, I think they would tell you the same thing."
In the Tri-County Conference opener for both teams, the Falcons will try to slow down an offense averaging 396 yards per game - 264 on the ground and 132 through the air.
"The three top things we need to stop are trap, power and counter as far as what they do," Drehle said. "I don't think that's any secret, I think they would tell you the same thing."
Skyler Creed is the Indians' leading rusher, as he's averaging 120 yards per game and has three touchdowns. The quarterback, Joe Forge, rushed for three scores last week at Paris and has completed 14-of-25 passes for 264 yards. His favorite target is Gabe Sheffield, who has caught four passes for 89 yards.
"We have about four pages worth of formations for them," Drehle said. "The big thing is trying to simplify it for the kids so that they can line up quickly. When you have those formations, a lot of times you have one or two plays you like to run from them. So being able to quickly identify the formation, you know "Here's the tendency.'
"If we can do that, it puts us ahead of the curve and slows down the game for the kids. What you don't want to be in is a position where you're chasing. We feel like we have a handle right now. Now, whether that translates to what we're doing on Friday night or not is a different story."
After dropping their season opener, the Falcons bounced back in fine form last week, routing Owensville. Drehle said the team is working to keep improving, doing so by ratcheting up the intensity in practice.
"We've gotten into some half-line stuff to try to increase the competition," he said. "When you lose kids (to injuries), you lose the competition level in practice, too.
"... So what we've done is taken the right side of our offensive line and the left side of our defensive line and we've matched them up, then we go the other way, too. It forces that intensity level to come up and what it's done is it's allowed us to play faster in practice. It's made our reps better. What we've told our kids is we're looking for quality vs. quantity. Early on, you're looking for repetitions, trying to get the quantity. Now we're trying to change the focus a bit.
"The intensity level was there (late week), the speed at which we did things was better, so that allows me to sleep at night, if nothing else."
Notes: Drehle said the Falcons will experiment with an I-formation look this week with the tandem of running backs Caleb Bischoff and Dominic Jamerson. "Bischoff is a very physical runner between the tackles and when Dominic gets to the edge, he can make some things happen," Drehle said. "So maybe that's a better combination for us." ... The Falcons are slowly but surely starting to get healthy. One of those rounding into shape is Dalton Fifer (knee). "Fifer looks good, he's moving a lot better and moving with confidence." Drehle said. ... Tanner Lueckenhoff (concussion) has been cleared and is getting some reps. "He's going to be behind technique- and conditioning-wise, but he's going to add depth at some point," Drehle said. ... Collin Luebbering (knee) is also back on the field. "He's not ready to go out and play a full game, but hopefully we can get him eight, 10, 12 plays a game," Drehle said. "We want to put him in some positions and places where we can control it, where we're not asking him to do too much."