Joplin seeks more consistency on offense as Ozark comes to town

Sep. 7—Joplin is coming off a two-score win over Willard on Aug. 31. The Eagles got a long week between games and now host Ozark at 7 p.m. Friday.

The defense has been tough for Joplin (2-0) so far limiting opponents to just 14 points per game.

"We still have a lot of things we're working on," head coach Curtis Jasper said. "(We are) Working through some bumps and bruises. So far, what I've liked is how well we've played defensively."

One player dealing with some of those bumps and bruises is running back Quin Renfro, who is expected to be out for three to four more weeks.

"We're still looking for that consistency offensively," Jasper said. "Part of that is fighting the injury bug."

But Jasper knows he has the personnel in line to step up in place of the injured players.

"We talked to our guys and said that can't be an excuse," he said. We have other guys capable of playing and we have to have that next-guy-up attitude."

One of those guys would be Toryn Jones, who ran the ball 18 times last week in the absence of Renfro for 125 yards and three touchdowns.

Other key stats from last week were Whit Hafer's two catches for 51 yards and a touchdown, Jett Beal pulled down three Hobbs Gooch passes for 49 yards, and Gooch finished 13 of 24 for 144 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Now the Eagles and coach Jasper will look to get some of that same contribution against Ozark (1-1).

"The thing I always appreciate about them is how hard they (Ozark) play," Jasper said. "We went to their place last year and they gave us about everything we wanted. They always play really hard and have a lot of pride in what they do."

As he scales his opponent, Jasper is anticipating a lot of different offensive play styles from Ozark on Friday, all being centered around a couple key players.

"The (Jack) Bowers kid runs really hard. They have a sophomore quarterback that I really like what he does as far as a sophomore goes. I think he does a good job. I think he's going to be a good one," Jasper said.

He added that Sam Clark is a versatile player showing he can get it done on offense, defense and special teams for the Tigers.

After opening the year with a 42-22 win at Carl Junction, Ozark slipped at home when hosting Republic last week, 41-14. Head coach Jeremy Cordell knows its vital for his team to continue to grow in Week 3.

"It's a pivotal week where you need to take that next step like you did from Week 1 to Week 2," Cordell said. "We're preparing accordingly. We know we're on the road. Tough opponent."

Through two weeks, Cordell noted that his team impressed with a road win to start the year despite being in a new system under a new coach.

Peyton Russell completed 80% of his passes in Week 1 against Carl Junction in his first varsity game as a sophomore.

"For a sophomore to go out and do that in his first game is pretty impressive," Cordell said.

Now, Ozark has to prepare for Joplin's size and skill players.

"Joplin is a good football team," Cordell said. "They have some really good skill kids. They have a good line up front. ... The big key for us is just like anybody, you better be able to run the ball and play great defense."

Cordell added that Jack Bowers has been an impact player for the Tigers as well at running back, Clark was named as a key two-way player, and Parker Elliott has reached double-digit tackles in both of the team's first two games.

"There are guys on both sides of the ball making plays. But, like I said, just like anyone else, we have to, collectively, as a unit, make plays and be at our max potential going into Week 3," Cordell said.