Hallsville-Centralia, Harrisburg-Fayette Highlight of District Semifinals
Hallsville head football coach Justin Conyers knew how important the Indians’ game against Centralia was earlier this season.
The Panthers beat Hallsville last season in the last second, and the Indians were eager to put that behind them. This led to a 46-12 win on September 3.
Hallsville then took his revenge. On Friday, Harrisburg and Centralia can get their revenge at the most important moment. The Panthers will face the Indians and the Bulldogs will face Fayette, with trips to their respective district championships on the line.
It won’t be an easy task for either team, especially Centralia, despite a significant rebound from the start of the season 1-3.
“The stars may have to align perfectly for us to be successful,” Centralia coach Tyler Forsee said. “I am excited about the opportunity.”
The opportunity for Centralia exists thanks to the Panthers improving this season. Hallsville also got to see this firsthand last week.
The Indians were able to spot Centralia in the Panthers’ victory over Montgomery County last Friday, and Hallsville saw a much more physical team than they faced earlier this season. That was Centralia’s goal.
“They looked so much sharper than they looked at the start of the season; they looked physical,” said Conyers. “They have definitely improved throughout the season.”
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This puts the blame on Hallsville. The Indians are undefeated and will play in front of their home crowd. Centralia knows what it’s like to wrestle, but the Panthers’ resurgence has given them new life.
Conyers knows this gives Centralia an advantage.
“We’re kind of in a lose-lose situation where all the pressure is on us,” Conyers said. “They are going to go out and play football without pressure.”
Conyers said his team’s lose-lose situation means Hallsville can’t waste any time. The Indians need to bring physical play to Centralia instead of waiting for the Panthers to gain momentum.
Forsee knows his team needs to do the same, and he’s keenly aware of the task at hand. Hallsville might be the best team overall, but the Panthers just need to be the best team for a Friday night.
“We have the underdog and we are going as far as possible,” said Forsee. “I said
put it on the line. Right now we’re sort of playing with house money. It’s a game that most people exclude us from. Let’s go do it. “
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In Boone County, Harrisburg will play a game similar to Centralia.
The Bulldogs do not dwell on revenge on a Fayette team that inflicted Harrisburg their first loss of the season 42-26 on October 8. There’s enough motivation to be had just with the playoff atmosphere itself.
“It’s the playoffs and our nearby rival,” Harrisburg coach Steve Hopkins told the Tribune in a text message. “It doesn’t matter who we play from last week, maximum effort of concentration and practice and application of what we teach is required.”
Hopkins said there will be few adjustments in what Harrisburg will do this weekend. There won’t be any crazy changes to what the Bulldogs are throwing at Fayette. Instead, Hopkins wants her team to focus on correcting the mistakes they made the last time around.
He wants Harrisburg to properly adjust to Fayette’s formations and movements while seeing the offense have a healthier balance between running and passing play.
“We will continue to build on the fundamentals of blocking and tackling,” said Hopkins. “There is, however, a greater urgency in everything we do, and it has been a good week so far balancing urgency with attention to detail.”
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The battle surrenders to Holt
The Spartans are the only Columbia team remaining in the MSHSAA playoffs, and they have history on their side this week.
The battle is 5-0 against Holt. However, the past does not affect the present.
This season, Holt is an immaculate 9-0 and will host the Spartans 5-4 for a district title playing spot on Friday.
The Indians average 48.1 points per game and allow just 13 points per game defensively. Holt has four wins against teams with at least seven wins this season.
Yet believe it or not, Battle seems to have a better chance of playing on the road than playing at home. The Spartans are 3-0 on the road this year, compared to 2-4 at home.
The battle will likely need a quick offensive start, along with a few timely turnovers in defense to stand a chance.
Chris Kwiecinski is the sports writer for the Columbia Daily Tribune, overseeing sports coverage for the University of Missouri and Boone County. Follow him on Twitter @OchoK_ and contact him at [email protected] or 435-414-3261.