The Sarcoxie Bears pride themselves on playing power football.
Sarcoxie put that power on display, rushing for 355 yards in a 42-8 season-opening win over the McAuley Catholic Warriors on Friday night at Missouri Southern’s Fred G. Hughes Stadium.
“We talk to our running backs a lot about the fact that we aren’t finesse runners,” Sarcoxie coach Luke Rader said. “We call it hard-nosed football.
“It was a pretty solid job by our offensive line and our backs to be physical.”
Sarcoxie senior running backs Conor Jones and Jade Bloss each eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. Jones ran for 120 yards and two touchdowns, while Bloss ran for 108 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Franklin Areaga rushed for 73 yards.
Running out of the wishbone, the Bears attempted only one pass.
“Obviously, people know we’re going to try and run the football,” Rader said. “Our offensive line did a pretty good job tonight. They’ve done a great job being leaders for us, getting in the weight room. Five of our six captains are offensive linemen, so that tells you what type of kids they are.”
McAuley tried to offset Sarcoxie’s physical rushing attack with a quick passing offense.
The Warriors were successful early but struggled to score. On the first possession of the game, McAuley quarterback Adam Robertson completed four passes to help the Warriors get inside Sarcoxie’s 10-yard-line. But the Warriors turned the ball over on downs after two short runs and two incomplete passes.
“For any football team, it’s so important to take that first drive and send a message whether you’re on offense or defense,” McAuley coach Brenden Gubera said. “That was honestly a great drive for a high school football team right off the bat. We get down to the 9-yard-line and we got a run play called, and we missed the hole. It was there. But we missed it. Otherwise we probably walk into the end zone and we’re up at least 6-0 five minutes into the game and feeling pretty good about ourselves. Instead, we end up throwing incomplete on fourth down, and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Sarcoxie took over from its 10-yard-line and proceeded to march the ball down the field. The Bears erased nearly six minutes off the clock, running the ball 11 consecutive times on the 90-yard drive that ended with a eight-yard touchdown run from Jones on fourth-and-7. The drive gave the Bears a 6-0 lead with 1:37 left in the first quarter.
It was more of the same on Sarcoxie’s next possession as the Bears ran the ball nine times, capping a 61-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown from Bloss. A conversion run by Bloss gave Sarcoxie a 14-0 lead with 6:12 left in the half.
Jones said his offensive line did a great job of creating running lanes.
“Without them, we are nothing,” Jones said. “I’m not going to take any of the credit. It was all them. Without them, I am nothing.”
McAuley attempted to cut into Sarcoxie’s lead before halftime. But after a Greg Carney reception, Bears linebacker Hunter Berry stripped the ball and returned it 67 yards to give Sarcoxie a 20-0 halftime lead.
The Warriors’ only touchdown came on a 97-yard kickoff return from Cole Lowry to cut Sarcoxie’s lead to 28-8 with 7:43 remaining in the third quarter. Lowry, a senior wide receiver, caught seven balls for 67 yards and also rushed for 45.
Robertson completed 12 of 21 passes for 103 yards.
Gubera said he was pleased with Robertson, who is taking over at quarterback after Mitch Wear graduated.
“He’s got big shoes to replace,” Gubera said. “But Adam ran the speed option well for us. He ran the veer well. He threw the ball well. He made some great decisions. The one pick he threw hit off three different hands, so you can’t really fault him for that. He did a nice job leading the troops.”
McAuley will try to get back on track when it travels to Jasper on Friday. Sarcoxie will be at home against Diamond for a Spring River Valley Conference game.
The Sarcoxie Bears pride themselves on playing power football.
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