After facing the top team in the state in Class 4 last week, things don't get much easier for the Carthage football team this week.

After facing the top team in the state in Class 4 last week, things don't get much easier for the Carthage football team this week.

The Tigers hosted Webb City a week ago and lost 67-20, now Carthage must play at undefeated Ozark.

Ozark wasn't kind to Carthage last season, winning 28-6 in week two, but Carthage rebounded to beat Willard 41-12 in week three, giving the Tigers the same 2-1 start to the season each of the last two years.

"I think maybe last year we went into that game probably overconfident," Carthage head coach Jon Guidie said. "We had a big win in week one versus Branson and had a lot of kids back and experience. I think they went into that game maybe overconfident and Ozark shut us down really quick. Especially the first half, we had four possessions and four three-and-outs. This year, I don't know if we can be overconfident with anybody yet because of our inexperience and so I don't think there's been any trace of that this week at practice. It's all back to business. Put last week behind us and see if we can get better and move forward."

Ozark has an especially stout defense through three games, allowing no more than 14 points in any game and just 33 overall.

"They do a lot of different things over there," Guidie said. "They're very multiple with their fronts and they're very multiple with what they do behind it in the secondary. There's really no rhyme or reason why they change it, it's not because of personnel or down and distance. I think they just like to mix it up and keep you guessing on that side. They're very athletic over there. They have two guys who can play for anybody. They're very aggressive, very athletic kids in the back end of their defense."

Ozark will pose a challenge on offense, too. The Tigers beat Benton 69-13, Harrison Ark. 48-14, and Republic 48-6 last week.

"Nobody's stopped them yet, that's for sure," Guidie said.

He said Ozark runs a single wing offense, a new style to teams in this area, but the Tigers also can line up in a spread formation with a different quarterback to make teams defend the whole field.

"It's like they have two different offenses they're able to use at will against you," he said. "That's what makes them tough to defend."
Ozark also returns a ton of experience from a team that went 7-3 a year ago.

"I noticed their athleticism," Guidie said. "They may not be as strong up front as they were a year ago. They had some really good players last year up front, and they've got a couple of them back. They're dominated by seniors, starting 10 seniors each way. Those kids have been through it and have experience."

Friday's road game at Ozark will also serve as a way for Carthage to put last week's loss behind them, and Guidie said the team has bounced back.

"It took them awhile," he said. "It took everybody awhile. That was a tough loss to endure. Not that we lost, I don't think there's much shame in losing to the No. 1 ranked team in the state, but the manner in which we lost was pretty frustrating. It took us a while to get going, but here we are in the middle of the week and I think their minds are right and they're ready to play."

Guidie's emphasis this week remains virtually unchanged: special teams and ball security. The Tigers learned the hard way last week why those areas are so important.

"Last week we talked about no mistakes on special teams and ball security, and that went out the window in the first half with three interceptions and two snaps over our punter's head. We just don't want to make mistakes, especially early. Punting the ball is okay, we just can't turn it over and make mistakes to give them short fields, especially early, because we don't want to get down in a hole like we did last week and not be able to get back out."