By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Beau Bounous registered 117 tackles and 16 quarterback sacks during an all-state senior season at Monett High School in 2009.
Missouri Southern signed Bounous as a defensive player, but after joining the Lions, he was moved to the offensive line.
“I was recruited as a defensive end,” Bounous said. “That was my forte coming out of high school. When I came to Missouri Southern, we had a little need on the offensive line, and I gave up my defensive dreams to get into the trenches on the offensive side of the ball and have been there ever since.”
Bounous will start at right tackle for the Lions in Saturday night’s home game against Southwest Baptist. The Lions are seeking their first 4-0 start since 1996.
Bounous started four games at left tackle last season for the Lions. The move to the interior line was not uncharted waters for him.
“In high school, I played on both sides of the ball, so I understand the fundamentals of what it took to be an offensive lineman or a defensive lineman,” he said.
“To be on either side of the ball, offense or defense, it is fundamentally the same thing. You are going head-to-head with somebody, hitting them in the mouth. It is what I like to do, so it was not a big transition for me.”
The Lions average 289.7 rushing yards per game — second in the MIAA and ninth in NCAA Division II — despite several injuries to offensive linemen.
“There are a lot of young kids who have had to step up this year, and I am very proud of them for that,” Bounous said. “They have really filled the shoes that they have needed to fill, and we have continued to do battle through some injuries. We really take it one day at a time and do what we can to be healthy on gamedays and just really push through the pain if we have to.”
And with the triple-option attack, the line is always looking to move forward.
“Like Coach (Kevin) Carey (offensive line coach) says, every step we are going downhill, and that is the mentality that we have,” Bounous said. “It is never backwards, always forward. If we are not coming off the ball and hitting somebody in the mouth, somebody is going to be yelling at us.”
Previewing Saturday’s task, “SBU’s defensive line ... they are a very athletic bunch,” Bounous said. “They do not like to stay blocked, so it’s going to be very important for us to keep our head up, keep our hands on and keep our feet moving.”
Bounous, 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, has added about 30 pounds since high school.
“I still am not where I want to be, but I am trying,” Bounous said. “About 265, and that would be just fine.”
His prep wrestling career helps him in football.
“Especially since we went to the triple option and all we are doing is cut blocking, it is almost like a double-leg takedown,” Bounous said. “It’s the same kind of mentality. I am going to take you to the ground, and you are going to like it.”
A double-leg takedown — wouldn’t that be holding?
“Only if the ref sees it,” Bounous said.