With a game at winless Neosho on Friday night, the Carthage football team is looking to get back on track this week after suffering two big losses against two very good teams.
Webb City defeated the Tigers 67-20 on Sept. 7, then Ozark won 65-26 a week ago, dropping the Tigers to 2-2 on the season.
“I’m glad it’s behind us,” head coach Jon Guidie said. “I thought we did some good things in the first half against Ozark. We still were making way too many mistakes and I wasn’t very happy with the second half. We competed well in the first half. The defense got some stops, but we made two critical errors with the interception and the punt snap over our head that led to 14 points.”
Carthage hasn’t played in a low-scoring game yet. Either the Tigers or their opponent have scored at least 60 points in three of the season’s first four games. There were 69 total points scored in Carthage’s week two win against Carl Junction, and that has been the lowest point total of any game so far.
The good news for Carthage is Neosho has been giving up a lot of points and not scoring very many, though the Wildcats have seen steady improvement since losing 45-7 against Bolivar in week one. Neosho has also been defeated 29-7 by Monett, 26-13 by Willard, and 40-32 last week at Branson.
“It looks like they’re relying of late on their quarterback in the running game,” Guidie said. “He had 39 carries against Branson last week. They’re doing a good job of spreading the field out in a running back set and running quarterback runs, which is very effective when you have an athlete like him and a big fullback to run behind.”
The Wildcats have plenty of size on the defensive side of the ball, with a 300 pound defensive end, 270 pound defensive tackle and 230 pound middle linebacker.
“They definitely have some size on that side,” Guidie said. “I think they’ve gotten progressively better each week. Starting at Bolivar they didn’t play very well, but each week since then they’ve gotten better and better.”
Guidie said the Tigers need to get back on track and get back into their rhythm.
“We need to be able to move the football and keep our offense on the field and our defense off the field,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re blocking, particularly the back side of plays, which has been hurting us the last couple weeks. The point of attack we’ve been doing pretty well, but to the back side we haven’t been doing well and we need to make sure we fix that. Defensively, tackling is still the emphasis. I think our kids for the most part are getting in a position to make a play, they just haven’t made the plays. That’s what we need to get better at.”
Page 2 of 2 - Running back Seth Beckner will play Friday after sitting out the second half against Ozark with an injury, and Brian “Bubba” Burns will play on the line after missing some time against Ozark with an injury.
“We have some injuries but hopefully we can rally around each other and see what we can do,” Guidie said.