The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 11, 2012

Webb City set for showdown with Ozark

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— Webb City vs. Ozark.

Maybe just that is enough for fans to fill Cardinal Stadium.

But Ozark’s visit to Webb City tonight really is a high school football headliner.

Kickoff — a showdown for Central Ozark Conference Large Division supremacy —  between the 7-0 juggernauts is scheduled for 7 p.m. The teams are 5-0 in the league.

Ozark is ranked seventh in Class 5. Webb City is No. 1 in Class 4 and enters the fray with winning streaks of 37 overall and 88 regular-season.

Said Ozark coach Mark Bliss before Thursday’s practice: “Webb City has all the pieces together. Hopefully, we can make it competitive.”

Obviously, Bliss, who’s in his second season with the Tigers, doesn’t have a goal of just making it “competitive.”

“Our biggest thing is: Our kids expect to go in and compete, try to make a run and see if we can’t compete with them,” Bliss told Brady Brite in the Christian County Headliner. “We’re not going to drive 11⁄2 hours just to show up.”

Said Webb City coach John Roderique: “This will be a challenge for our defense. They’ve put up a lot of points (including two games of more than 60 points) against some good defenses.

“Their offense has been effective with a lot of misdirection plays,” Roderique said. “It’s hard to know who has the ball. They get a lot of blockers at the point of attack.

“We don’t know if they’re quicker than ourselves,” Roderique said. “People tell us we’re fast. Well, I’d say they’re very comparable.

“They’re fast, physical and aggressive,” Roderique said of the Tigers’ defense. “They fly around. Everything about their defense is based on speed.

“Ozark is the No. 1 opponent we’ve faced all season,” Roderique said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Bliss is familiar with winning streaks. His Conway Springs (Kan.) team won 62 in a row while claiming four state titles.

The Tigers are coming off a 41-21 win against visiting Nixa in the “Backyard Brawl.”

Webb City, powered by a strong second half, beat visiting Nixa 49-21 on Sept. 21.