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Eldon preparing to host Tri-County Conference foe School of the Osage

Eldon preparing to host Tri-County Conference foe School of the Osage

October 6th, 2017 by Dave Roberts in Sports Prep

The Eldon Mustangs and Versailles Tigers clash at the line of scrimmage during last Friday night's game in Versailles.

Photo by Lindsey Simon

No motivational speeches are necessary this week.

It's Eldon vs. Osage.

'Nuff said!

The Osage Indians and Eldon Mustangs resume their Highway 54 Rivalry tonight in Tri-County Conference action at Eldon (7 p.m. kickoff). It is Eldon's Senior Night.

It seems every year at least one of the two are state-ranked and that's again the case this fall as the Mustangs are No. 7 in this week's Missouri Media Class 3 poll.

Eldon comes in 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the Tri-County. Osage is 4-3 and 3-2.

The Indians are facing the Tri-County's top two teams back-to-back after falling to unbeaten Blair Oaks 52-26 last week. It was another high-scoring rout by the Mustangs a week ago, as they clubbed Versailles 69-20.

"It's really a good rivalry game," said Osage head coach Devin Johnson, who was also a part of the rivalry as a player when he faced Eldon as an Osage Indian. "It's one that not too many people are on the fence — you are on one side or the other."

Fittingly, the two teams split two games last year, with Osage beating an injury-depleted Eldon 32-6 in the regular season and then the more-healthy Mustangs clipping the Indians 39-36 in district play.

They are again Class 3 District 3 opponents this year, with Eldon currently ranked No. 2 in the district standings behind Springfield Catholic and Osage at No. 6.

"No matter how you slice it the first nine weeks doesn't really matter," Johnson said. "For us it's the process of getting better every day."

"It will be a valuable game for us to gauge where we're at," said Eldon head coach Shannon Jolley. "We're No. 2 in the district now and (the district) could be extremely competitive. But it's not about where you're seeded in district play, it's how well you play and how good you are. Anybody on any Friday night can win in our district."

Eldon's offense erupted again last week and now the Mustangs' wing-T attack is averaging 49.8 points per game.

Powering the Mustangs is senior running back Isaiah Merida, who has 1,001 yards on 110 attempts (9.1 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.

Also for Eldon, junior fullback Isaiah Parsons has 568 yards on 122 attempts and 13 TDs; senior wingback Trenton Dillon has 394 yards on 26 attempts (15.2) and junior quarterback Dawson Brandt 367 yards on 38 carries and six TDs.

Brandt has completed 14-of-35 passes for 444 yards and eight TDs.

Merida has four receptions for 127 yards and two TDs and Dillon three catches for 155 yards and three TDs.

"This year they're very disciplined and are executing very well," Johnson said of Eldon. "And they've got probably one of the best offensive lines that they've had in years. We see (Eldon's offensive formation) every year — our kids know what they are going to do. The game at the high school level will still be won by the team that controls the line of scrimmage. It makes you sustain gap control to the best of your ability."

Osage can also pile on the points, averaging 33.3 points while allowing 24.9.

Indian senior quarterback Zach Wheeler has completed 102-of-165 passes for 1,429 yards, 12 interceptions and 18 touchdowns.

Senior wideout Drake Gaines has 34 receptions for 546 yards and seven touchdowns while junior wideout Dalton Depee has 32 catches for 402 yards and five TDs; senior running back Nick Riley 16 catches for 221 yards and senior running back Austin Magnuson 14 catches for 235 yards.

Nick Riley leads the squad in rushing with 539 yards on 85 attempts and eight TDs while Magnuson has 338 yards on 66 attempts and three TDs.

Magnuson, a linebacker, paces the Indians in tackles with 99 — 64 solo — while Depee, a linebacker, has 64 tackles and Riley, a safety, 61.

Senior lineman Josh McCubbin has nine sacks for Osage, including six last week against Blair Oaks.

"They're playing really well now," Jolley said of Osage. "They played a good game against Blair Oaks; they just didn't finish it out the way Devin wanted. They're always going to be solid. You know what to expect but being able to stop it is the difficult thing. I think they're more mature on the offensive side and are executing better. They spread the ball around and have some explosive players.

"Defensively they're pretty talented on the back end — they are a lot of the same guys catching the ball on offense. And their inside linebacking play has been good."