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Taking Show On Road

Mustangs Look To Go 2-0, See Passing Game Catch On by Al Gaspeny / Special to McDonald County Press | September 2, 2021 at 7:50 a.m.

McDonald County seized control in the first half last week against Aurora and never let go, opening the season with a 33-22 victory.

That's primarily because the Mustangs' ground game was humming, setting a confident tone. The visiting Houn Dawgs threatened to grab momentum twice. Both times, McDonald County quickly quelled the uprising. There were no signs of panic. That's the reassuring feeling an effective rushing attack provides.

But Mustangs coach Kellen Hoover knows his team won't run for five touchdowns every week. He'd like to see more success in the air when McDonald County visits Springfield Catholic on Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

"We need to get our passing game clicking," Hoover said. "If we can hurt people a couple of different ways, we can be that much more dangerous."

Against Aurora, Mustangs quarterback Cole Martin hit passes when needed, particularly to Jack Parnell and Colton Ruddick.

"He managed the game. That's something he does well," Hoover said of Martin. "He did a good job being the general of our offense."

Hoover said there were no major injuries from Week 1.

"We came out relatively healthy," Hoover said. "We're not any better or worse than we were last week."

Springfield Catholic opened with a 46-0 road loss to defending Class 2 state champion Lamar. That was a Saturday game, so Irish coach Rich Rehagen made the trip to McDonald County last Friday.

"I think the Mustangs looked like they're doing a nice job," Rehagen said. "I thought they ran the football really well. On defense, they were flying around and doing stuff right."

Rehagen said Catholic replaced most of its offense from last season and brought back about half of the defense.

"We're pretty inexperienced," Rehagen said. "There's no other way to say it. I just want to see improvement. We've got a list of things we're going to try to improve on."

"I know they have a lot of guys who are seeing first-time Friday nights," Hoover. "There are some jitters that come along with that. I know they're going to regroup."

Lamar, which has won eight state titles in the past 10 years, was a difficult place for Catholic to start.

"Lamar is a tough test, for sure," Rehagen said. "You've got to turn the page. You have to move on in your season. I preach that year after year."

The Irish depend on wide receiver Liam O'Reilly, a 6-1, 180-pound senior.

"He's a really nice player," Rehagen said. "He's athletic. He catches the ball well. He runs good routes."

O'Reilly, who committed to Missouri State, had 38 receptions for 544 yards and eight TDs in seven games during the covid-marred 2020 season.

"That's always concerning whenever one of their best players is a receiver," Hoover said. "That probably means big plays are at least a threat."

More News

McDonald County at Springfield Catholic

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Where: Springfield, Mo.

Records: McDonald County is 1-0: Springfield Catholic is 0-1.

Livestream: KNEO.org.

Print Headline: Taking Show On Road

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