By Matthew Bain
EAST PRAIRIE-- The East Prairie Eagles football team rolled the Grandview Eagles of Hillsboro 49-6 Friday night in East Prairie.
East Prairie's offensive onslaught was led by senior standout tailback M.C. Williams. Williams rushed for 202 yards on 18 carries with five touchdowns.
"I was just focusing on helping my team out and staying behind my linemen, who played great tonight," Williams said. "I try to be the senior leader the team needs."
Williams broke off stunning touchdown runs of 65 and 41 yards, as well as three others from shorter distances.
The Eagles first touchdown of the game was on the 65 yard run of Williams, who utilized numerous cutbacks and a stiff arm to cross the goal line, sending the East Prairie crowd into a frenzy.
"That first touchdown felt great," Williams said. "This was our first home game and to hear the fans cheering, that was great experience."
The running game success of Williams and the other five Eagles who rushed from scrimmage Friday night, was due in part to the development of the pass attack by sophomore quarterback Conner Scott. Scott was 6-for-14 with 128 yards and no interceptions. Although there were no passing touchdowns, several passing plays made game changing impacts. With 7:44 left in the second quarter, East Prairie found themselves facing a fourth-and-seven situation. Scott dropped back and fired a 40-yard bomb to Riley Hadenfeldt, who was only stopped at the goal line by a shoelace tackle. Williams punched it in for six on the next play. Scott's passes also provided first downs at many points in the game.
East Prairie head coach Jason Aycock felt the Eagles executed their offensive game plan very well.
"Our game plan coming into this game was to open thing up with our passing game," Aycock said. "We knew if we could establish our passing game it would open things up for M.C. He (Williams) was definitely an impact. He better be very thankful because our offensive line just did a fantastic job tonight. We whipped them physically at the point of attack on offense."
Aycock noted that the passing game did "what it needed to do."
"It always gives East Prairie confidence to have success passing," said Aycock. "Because we are not used to that. I said it all week long after I looked at our film, that we have to be able to throw the ball more. The offensive line and our blocking scheme gave us so much protection. Conner (Scott) was able to sit in the pocket and able to throw the ball. We started off with short passes, then that opened up the deep ball. Conner did a great job tonight. He's only a sophomore and I look forward to see what he can do in these next couple of years."
The Eagles dismissed the notion Friday night that they one dimensional on offense by spreading the workload around, to others not named M.C. Williams. East Prairie had six players run the ball and Scott threw toward four different receivers Friday night.
"One thing that we wanted to do, as our players call it, was to 'spread the love,'" Aycock said. "We wanted to not have to count on only M.C. Williams. We have to depend on everyone. If we can scatter the offense around, they can't key on M.C. Williams. That's what we want to do."
The Eagle defense was just as relentless as their offense. East Prairie caused Grandview to turn the ball over a dizzying eight times, including seven interceptions off of Grandview quarterback Robby Allen. Three of those interceptions were picked off by junior defensive back Kaleb Williford, with others contributing one.
Grandview simply couldn't cope with the array of coverage packages that Aycock's secondary presented.
"On a couple of those interceptions, the East Prairie coach did a good job of switching his defenses up," Grandview head coach Dave Stuckey remarked. "They switched from a four-man front to a three-man front. When he jumped to that three-front, that gave them another back that slipped into our slant routes that were their early. We just didn't see that until it was too late. We also had a little bit of route miscommunication of a few routes."
Aycock praised his defense, particularly the secondary after the game Friday.
"We challenged our secondary on Monday," he said. "We told them that Grandview was going to come out throwing the ball. We told them, the defensive backs, that we (the coaches) would put them in situations where they could be successful. We switched back and forth from a three-man front to a four-man front and it worked out very well in that it kept them off balance and off key. We got pressure on the quarterback and the defensive secondary just really stepped up for us."
Aycock is extremely satisfied with the attitude and leadership he is seeing in his squad.
"In the 12 years I've been coaching I've never seen or coached a group of leaders like I have on this team," he said. "Our seniors set the tone for the team. There were a couple of times I called a timeout and my guys stepped up and said 'coach, run this play, its working on them.' I did it. You can say that they became coaches on the field. That's just great."
"The camaraderie of this team is just awesome," Aycock continued. "It is fantastic. It starts from the top with our seniors. They do a really good job leading the team. It's totally a team effort out there. There is not a selfish person on this team. Winning helps that. Right now its just a big team effort."
The East Prairie Eagles will be back in action Friday night as they will host the Scott City Rams in East Prairie.