Carthage to host improved Neosho team in Week 5 COC slate

·5 min read

Sep. 23—Class 5 No. 1 Carthage will square off against an improved Neosho team on Friday night in a Central Ozark Conference football contest at David Haffner Stadium.

The Week 5 tilt is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. in Carthage.

The Wildcats enter the game with a 2-2 record after suffering a 63-48 setback at Republic last week. However, Neosho, in its second season under head coach Brandon Taute, is already one win shy of its winningest season since 2018 when it finished 8-4.

The Neosho offense has been exceptionally potent through the first four weeks as it's averaged over 50 points and 580 yards of total offense per game.

The Wildcats scored 50-plus points in both of its wins — a 79-72 victory over Willard in the season opener and a 55-29 victory over Carl Junction in Week 3. NHS also scored three touchdowns in a 65-21 setback to Class 6 No. 4 Nixa.

Quarterback Quenton Hughes has completed 70% of his passes (112 of 158) for 1,292 yards and 14 TDs. His top target, wide receiver Isaiah Green, has hauled in 49 catches for 683 yards and eight TDs.

The Wildcats also sport an explosive ground attack with running back Jared Siler averaging 248.5 rushing yards per game. He has 994 rushing yards overall on 141 carries, and he's reached paydirt on 13 occasions.

Senior Aiden Howell leads the team in tackles with 16.3 per game.

Carthage is off to a 3-1 start, having rolled to lopsided wins over Republic, Branson and Carl Junction while suffering a narrow 22-21 loss to Nixa.

The Tigers have a formidable offense of their own that averages 43.5 points and 446 yards per game.

The CHS offense is led by senior running back Luke Gall, the returning Class 5 Offensive Player of the Year who has amassed 803 yards and 18 TDs on 85 carries through the first four weeks.

Gall, an Air Force Academy commit, also leads the team in receiving with 181 yards and a TD on four receptions. The two-way standout plays linebacker on defense and has a team-high 32 tackles and three tackles for loss.

Senior Cooper Jadwin, in his first prep season as a starting quarterback for the Tigers, has completed 18 of 37 passes for 339 yards and two TDs. He's also second on the team in rushing with 400 yards and three scores on 48 carries.

Hudson Moore leads the Carthage wide receivers with seven catches for 80 yards and one TD.

Carthage earned a 71-14 win over Neosho last season.

WEBB CITY AT OZARK

Class 5 No. 5 Webb City (2-2) will look to bounce back from a 24-8 loss to Joplin when it travels to take on the Ozark Tigers (1-3) on Friday night at Ozark High School.

Webb City also opened the season with a 42-19 setback to Nixa before claiming back-to-back wins over Carl Junction and Republic.

This marks the second consecutive season that the Cardinals have suffered a pair of losses through the first four weeks of the season. However, the slow start last year didn't spoil the overall goal for Webb City as it closed the campaign with seven consecutive triumphs en route to winning the Class 5 state championship.

The Cardinals head into Friday night averaging 27.25 points and 274.25 yards per game. The bulk of their offensive production has been in the run game, where they've amassed 939 rushing yards and nine TDs.

Junior running back Breckin Galardo is Webb City's top rusher with 57 carries for 416 yards and five TDs. The Cardinals have three other players who have rushed for at least 100 yards in Landon Johnson (207 yards, 32 carries), Omari Jackson (197 yards, 32 carries) and Cole Cavitt (100 yards, 15 carries). Aidan Alberty has added 99 yards rushing on 21 carries.

Johnson, at quarterback, has completed 17 of 36 passes for 198 yards. Senior wide receiver William Hayes has 10 catches for 109 yards.

Seniors Lucas Ott and Billy Wolfe lead Webb City defense with 31 and 31 tackles, respectively. Wolfe has five tackles for loss while Ott has four.

Ozark is coming off its first win of the season — a 40-0 triumph over Willard — after suffering consecutive losses to Carl Junction, Republic and Joplin to open the season. The Tigers are averaging 24 ppg while surrendering 30.5 ppg to its opponents.

Webb City claimed a 63-48 win over Ozark last season.

CARL JUNCTION AT BRANSON

Carl Junction (1-3) has lost three consecutive games since opening the season with a 21-point win over Ozark in the season opener, but the Bulldogs will attempt to right the ship on Friday night when they travel to Branson to take on the Pirates (1-3).

The Bulldogs suffered a 48-12 loss to Carthage last week despite holding a 9-0 lead in the latter stages of the first quarter. Carthage, boosted by a six-TD performance by Gall, recovered to take a 27-12 halftime lead before outscoring CJ 21-0 in the second half.

The Bulldogs are averaging 19.3 ppg while surrendering 21 ppg to its opponents.

The CJ offense, accounting for 270.2 yards per game, is led by QB Dexter Merrell, who has completed 50% of his passes (35 of 70) for 442 yards and a TD. His favorite target, Malakhi Moore, has 11 catches for 189 yards and a score.

Merrell has also rushed for 153 yards and four TDs on 28 carries while running back Tony Stewart has 31 rushes for 178 yards and two TDs.

Johnny Starks is the leading tackler for the CJ defense with 33 total tackles and two tackles for loss. Stewart and Cayden Bolinger have 14 tackles apiece.

Branson, coming off a 56-17 loss to Nixa, is scoring 10.3 ppg while surrendering 39.5 ppg to its opponents.

The Bulldogs claimed a 33-7 win over the Pirates in last year's meeting at Carl Junction.