The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 31, 2012

BLOG: Looking back, ahead

By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer

— Lots of rainy Friday night football on tap for tonight, but first let's look back at last night's MIAA opener.

Not a bad start for our local teams, eh?

Missouri Southern, in its first game under coach Daryl Daye, took care of business. Globe sports editor Jim Henry was there (you can read his story here) and from the looks of it, the Lions were in control in the second half befure UCO made it interesting.

This is exactly what the Lions needed to do. Morale is high around MSSU and many players and fans think the Lions can finish with a winning record in Daye's first campaign. Avoiding a letdown last night is a huge first step toward that.

Speaking of huge first steps, how about Pitt State QB Anthony Abenoja? The sophomore making his first start threw for a school-record 378 yards as the Gorillas rolled to a 41-20 win over Northeastern State in beautiful Tahlequah, Okla.

With Abenoja's strong, accurate arm and dangerous receiving weapons like John Brown and Andrew Castaneda, not only could these Gorillas be really good again, but they could be the first past-first team at Pitt State in ... forever?

As for tonight's slate, I'll be heading to Springfield to see if Joplin can build off the momentum from its big Week 1 win. The Eagles face Parkview at JFK Stadium at 7.

If this rain sticks around, it could turn into a Chris Payton-Barba vs. Cole Jenkins rushing contest.

If you can't make the drive to SGF and feel like braving the weather, I'd suggest heading to Webb City, where the top-ranked Cardinals will put their 82-game regular-season winning streak on the line against Springdale Har-Ber, the No. 4 team in Arkansas Class 7A.

Webb City coach John Roderique told the Globe's Anvil Welch that it will take "a monumental effort) for the Cardinals to hang with Har-Ber. Well, let's not get carried away, Coach. You don't have to be so humble.

Still, I'd gladly buy a ticket for this game if I tonight free.