The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

August 30, 2013

High-scoring affair expected between Carthage, Seneca

What’s going to be higher — the temperature or the final score — when Carthage and Seneca open their prep football seasons tonight in Carthage.

“I think there will be a lot of points scored just like there were last year,” said Seneca coach Dan Scheible, who did not choose between the scoreboard and thermometer.

“I think Carthage is a good football team. We’re going to have to play well. The heat is going to be a factor, but we’re ready to go.”

Last year in Seneca the teams combined for 107 points as Carthage registered a 61-47 victory.

The game statistics resembled a video game. Two running backs over 200 yards rushing, two more surpassed 100 yards. Both quarterbacks passed for more than 200 yards, and 11 receivers made at least one catch..

The Carthage offense returns seven starters, including all-state receiver E.J. Morgan, who averaged almost 20 yards per catch last season and scored 11 touchdowns. Cameron Priester, who totaled 757 yards and 11 TDs as a backup last year, moves into the starting lineup.

The Indians also have seven starters back on offense, led by quarterback Payton Rawlins (1,943 yards and 28 touchdowns passing in 2012) and running back Braxton Graham (1,278 yards on the ground last season).

“We’ve had a good summer, and getting into the actual fall camp and school, it’s going well,” Scheible said. “We had a good jamboree with Webb City and Joplin. We came out of that injury-free, and that’s good competition for us. We’re excited about opening the season and playing Carthage.”

The Tigers have six starters back on defense, one more than Seneca. Naturally the defenses have to rise to the occasion to stop some scoring chances

“Turnovers are a key like they are in any early game,” Scheible said. “We had four fumbles in the jamboree but we didn’t lose any of them. We got two turnovers out of Joplin inside the 5-yard line — a fumble and an interception. Ball security and turnovers are going to be big keys.”

Elsewhere around the area, Neosho has drawn a tough assignment as the Wildcats begin the Dustin Baldwin era. The Wildcats travel to Bolivar to face the Liberators, who have won the COC Small Division championship eight consecutive years.

The Big 8 Conference has only one league game — Mount Vernon at rival Monett. Two-time defending state champion Lamar opens at home against future league foe McDonald County before playing current league contenders the next three games — at Seneca, Cassville and at Mount Vernon.

The Spring River Valley Conference has three league games on tap — Liberal at Diamond, Jasper at Pierce City and Greenfield at Lockwood. Five-time defending champion Miller opens at home against Marionville, and Sarcoxie, a postseason participant the last three years, visits McAuley Catholic at Missouri Southern’s Fred G. Hughes Stadium.

Teams in southeast Kansas and northeast Oklahoma have scrimmages scheduled this weekend before they open regular-season play next week.

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