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story.lead_photo.caption North Callaway running back Trevor Ray separates himself from a pair of Tipton defenders in the Thunderbirds' 60-16 win against the Cardinals in last Friday's home opener in Kingdom City. Photo by Amy Craghead

KINGDOM CITY — North Callaway coach Don Boulware knows the tape always reveals the truth.

Even with the Thunderbirds demolishing Tipton 60-16 for their first win of the season in last week's home opener, Boulware is keeping his level of excitement in check.

North Callaway (1-1) will look for further progress in the wake of that commanding victory when the Thunderbirds travel to Clopton/Elsberry (1-1) to face the IndianHawks in tonight's Eastern Missouri Conference opener. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

"Week 1, after watching the film (from a 40-8 loss at Lincoln), it wasn't as bad as it seemed," Boulware said. "Watching the film from this past Friday, it wasn't quite as good as it seemed.

"You're always somewhere in the middle there."

Boulware noted the beginning conference play draws some extra attention from his players.

"Conference games are important to us," Boulware said. "They say games don't count until you get to district (play), which is true if you're going to win a state title or district title and go on (to the playoffs).

"Every game counts — we want to look good in the Jamboree (scrimmages), we want to look good in our non-conference games. I think just getting that win helps a lot, but the first conference game will have a little more meaning."

North Callaway will encounter a Clopton/Elsberry squad tonight that will also be energized after picking up its first win of the season. The IndianHawks roughed up the Missouri Military Academy 42-7 last week in their home opener.

The Clopton/Elsberry offense is directed again this season by quarterback Shawn Yates, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior. Yates accounted for almost 3,000 yards of total offense and 22 touchdowns last season, including 2,478 yards passing.

"He's a very experienced, good quarterback with some size — good arm, good runner," Boulware said. "He's a very good passer, seems to see the field well, knows what he's doing back there."

Junior Eddie Bonstell (5-10, 170) is the IndianHawks' featured running back and senior Kyle Martin and junior Zakk Eivins are Yates' main receiving targets.

Boulware said Yates will line up both under center with two-back sets and in the shotgun with two- and three-receiver looks. He also observed Clopton/Elsberry will run out of the I-formation and the flexbone.

That flood of information left North Callaway's defense with plenty of prep work this week after limiting Tipton to 127 yards of total offense, including minus-10 yards rushing.

"You have to recognize the formation as they break the huddle and align to it correctly," Boulware said. "We have to know their tendencies out of formations — some of them they're balanced in, some of them they throw more out of, some of them they run more out of.

"We have to know where certain personnel is lined up."

Boulware did express his concern the Thunderbirds' pass rush has yet to post a sack this season.

"We need to find a combination of guys up front that we can get some pressure on the passer," Boulware said. "I don't care who you are, if you're giving a quarterback enough time to throw, he's going to find somebody open."

Boulware pointed out the IndianHawks' defense will operate out of a 4-3 base scheme and shift to a 5-2 look in situations.

"They rally to the ball pretty well and their front four is solid," Boulware said. "They've got three pretty active linebackers behind them and they're going to mix it up, up front, even if they line up the same way.

"They're going to be slanting, they're going to be blitzing, they're going to be doing some different things just to give you a different look."

Don't look for the Thunderbirds to stray from their offensive source of success last week — running the ball behind a dominating line. North Callaway gained 375 yards as a team, with senior fullback Mason Wortman rushing for 137 yards and four touchdowns.

"Last Friday night I felt like we got off the ball really well and our linemen stayed after their blocks," Boulware said. "Too many times in high school football, a lineman will come off and he may make a great initial hit, but he doesn't keep his feet moving and he doesn't maintain that block.

"That's the hardest thing to teach in football, whether it's offense or defense, to teach a young man to keep his feet moving after initial contact. If you get 11 people doing that, you're going to be a really good football team."

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