RUSSELLVILLE — After coming 10 yards short of potentially pulling out their first varsity victory against Grandview: Hillsboro, the 0-3 Russellville Indians travel Saturday to Kansas City to take on Hogan Prep (2-2).
The two teams come in on completely different trajectories. Hogan Prep is coming off a 28-21 victory against Van Horn, while Russellville is reeling from a 12-8 loss to Grandview: Hillsboro where the Indians led in the fourth quarter, and had a chance to score on their final drive, but couldn't seal the deal.
Part of that was Russellville's inability to finish drives with points. They had three trips inside the Grandview: Hillsboro red zone but could only score on one of them. The others ended in a fumble and a turnover on downs. The Indians also fumbled the ball two other times.
Protecting the football and finishing drives are two things Russellville coach Roger VanDeZande said would be key to the Indians getting their first win. By his own calculations, his team should have scored more than the 8 they did against Grandview: Hillsboro.
"We had 329 yards of offense (against Grandview: Hillsboro) so we should have been able to score 32 points," VanDeZande said. "The only caveat is if you have turnovers or penalty issues. We had three fumbles, lost them all, and we didn't punch it in on short yardage."
Converting on those third-and-short and fourth-and-short situations would go a long way for the Indians as they still search for their first win of the season. During the game against Grandview: Hillsboro, they had a fourth-and-1 from the Eagles' 1-yard line, but could not get it in for the score. That ultimately proved to be the difference maker for them in the game.
While VanDeZande did say he hadn't placed more emphasis on protecting the football than normal during practice this week, it was definitely something they were worried about going against Hogan Prep.
"They're very consistent. They'll run the ball in any gap," VanDeZande said of the Rams' offense. "I don't think it's a mystery on who we're gonna face. They execute pretty well."
Having already faced running teams like Sweet Springs and Grandview: Hillsboro the last two weeks, what separates Hogan Prep from those two teams is their size, according to VanDeZande.
"Physically, they're more like (Missouri Military Academy). They have pretty good size on both sides of the line."
Russellville has some weapons of their own to counteract any defense they face. Junior running back Alex Oligschlaeger broke out for a big performance last weekend against Grandview: Hillsboro, running for 129 yards on 24 carries. Fellow junior Chris Seaver scored a 7-yard touchdown to put the Indians on the board, and fullback Bladen Kremer is tough to bring down when he gets going.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association announced the class and district assignments this week. Russellville was placed in Class 1 District 3 with Windsor, Skyline, Tipton, Cole Camp, Lincoln and Pleasant Hope.
"It's a good-looking district. I like how we're set up in that," VanDeZande said. "We've been playing people that are above us but I think we're maturing and we're getting better by playing people that are bigger than us. I think by the end of the year, we'll keep getting better week by week and I think we'll come on at the end of the year."