By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
Things have taken a rather quick upswing for the Nevada Tigers under head coach Wes Beachler.
After seven straight years of three wins or less — including an 0-10 season in 2010 — the Tigers are roaring in Beachler’s second season at the helm.
Nevada, 8-2 and winners of seven straight, plays host to Harrisonville tonight at 7 in the second round of the Class 4 District 7 tournament.
“This kids have really responded,” said Beachler, who led the Tigers to a 6-4 record last year. “They have been very businesslike since Day 1. We’ve tried to instill a work ethic and they bought into that real early.”
The Tiger lost two of their first three games — a season-opener at Holden and a Week 3 game at Oak Grove — but haven’t lost since. They are averaging 42.7 points per game for the season.
“Offensively, we’ve been able to move the ball consistently all year,” Beachler said. “Both of our loses came to state-ranked teams and we still put up at least 20 points.”
The key to the Tiger offensive has been the line, which has been dominant even after losing 6-foot-6, 290-pound senior all-state Sam Ellifrits in Week 9 against McDonald County.
“They have been a huge key,” Beachler said. “We were really strong with Sam and even after losing him, which obviously is a big blow, we have been consistent up front.”
That line paves the way for Dalton Hendren — who rushes for more than 100 yards per game and has found the end zone 20 times this season — and Bradey Denney, who averages nine yards per carry.
“They do a good job sharing the load,” Beachler said.
The Tiger defense, meanwhile, has been steady, allowing an average of 18.5 points over its last six outing.
“A big key for us is that the defense has been consistent as well,” Beachler said. “We don’t allow huge amounts of points. We’ve given up some points over the year, but we don’t give up big games.”
Harrisonville enters tonight’s matchup with an 8-2 record, having lost 28-12 to Savannah and 21-14 to Oak Grove.
“They run the veer and some mid-line and move the line of scrimmage down the field,” Beachler said. “Their quarterback handles the ball very well. If they can have their way with the fullback dive and open up the quarterback keep and the pitch, we could be in trouble.”
Turnovers, not surprisingly, will also be key, Beachler said.
“In the games where they didn’t turn the ball over and they were able to get a couple turnovers themselves, they won in blowouts,” he said. “But when the other team has taken care of the ball, they’ve struggled. That’s the key for us.”