The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

August 29, 2013

Heat pushes back Joplin's season opener against Glendale

Game at Springfield will kick off at 8 p.m.

The plan of attack from the Joplin Eagle and Glendale Falcon camps is about what you’d expect for a season opener.

Execute, take care of things on your side of the ball and limit mistakes.

Simple enough. Both teams will just have to wait an extra hour to put those plans to the test. The late August heat wave that hit this week forced officials to push the game, in Springfield, to 8 p.m. to lessen safety concerns.

“I’m not crazy about it, but I’m glad we decided on it now instead of getting ready to play and then deciding to wait an hour for it to cool down,” Joplin coach Chris Shields said. “We want to keep the kids safe.”

The Eagles and Falcons have traded wins over the last two years. Glendale rolled past Joplin 50-37 in Shields’ first game at the helm in 2011 before the Eagles got some revenge with a 50-7 season-opening win at Junge Field last year.

“I’m sure they have last year in the back of their mind,” Shields said. “This is a date they’ve had circled since their season ended last year. I expect them to come out and give us a good football game.”

The Falcons lost a good deal of experience from last year’s 2-8 season under first-year head coach Tyler Overstreet.

But Glendale does return four offensive linemen and an experienced tight end from a year ago, and Shields — who saw a two-game improvement and a .500 record last year in his second season — said he knows how much a team can improve after a coach’s first campaign.

“I think they’re an improved team with a some kids back,” Shields said. “It’s the second year under a new coach and I know as well as anybody that year two can see some big steps forward.”

Tyler Marion, a 6-foot, 180-pound senior, will take over at quarterback for Glendale. Juniors John Deragowski and Daniel Leali and sophomore Josh Buchanan could see carries out of the backfield.

“Early in the year, the number one thing is taking care of the football,” Overstreet said. “Last year against Joplin we turned it over five times. You can’t expect to win like that.

“We have to focus on taking care of ourselves and worrying about what we do.”

That was the same message Shields was preaching after Joplin’s practice on Thursday evening.

“Week 1, I think you see more teams lose games than you do win games,” he said. “We have to make sure we’re prepared for every situation. Hopefully you’ve gone over everything you can think of and we can come out and execute what we can do well.

“There’s not a big scouting report or a big scheme advantage or tendencies you can pick up in a Week 1 game. You just have to do the things you do.”

The Falcons are coming off an emotional offseason. Assistant coach Terrence Christian drowned in Bull Shoals Lake in July.

“It’s one of those things where in some way, shape or form, we’re all still dealing with it,” Overstreet said. “He’s gone, but not forgotten. The kids are reminded of his presence every day.”

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