It is not meant to be pretty, the game of football, and that's what this week is all about.
WAYNESVILLE – It is not meant to be pretty, the game of football, and that's what this week is all about.
Toss the game plans out the window because, for at least this week, against Rolla, fundamentals will be the determining factor for which team finally earns its first win of the season – and it starts in the trenches.
It was almost painful watching Waynesville quarterback Varon Martinez (Jr.) run for his life on passing downs against Parkview. The Tigers' lineman seemed sluggish, reacting slowly to a cadence they should have memorized, and then played on their toes and lost leverage.
But, against Parkview, the Tigers rushed for 48 carries and amassed 263 yards (5.5 yards per carry). The Tigers' coaching staff knows the offensive line is capable of run blocking; they've done it successfully all year for precisely 647 yards on 133 carries (4.9 yards per carry).
Facing difficult second- and third-and-long situations, however, no team can rely on its powerful running game.
To the average fan who enjoys gaudy stats, it may be ugly to keep an eye on offensive lineman, but, in the grand scheme of football, controlling the line of scrimmage and protecting the quarterback will eventually correlate to the only stat that matters: winning.
Looking at Rolla, the Bulldogs have allowed nearly 210 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns per game thus far, and last week the team was steamrolled by Joplin for 276 ground yards.
Rolla's weakness is Waynesville's strength, and it could show in Friday's game.
Stripping football down to its basics, a team's turnover ratio is usually indicative of its win-loss record, and Waynesville hasn't had luck taking the ball away in 2013.
In four games, the Tigers have forced just two interceptions. The defense is swarming to ballcarriers, but that piece of leather won't eject out onto the turf. And, for the most part, that's how opponents have scored 27.3 points per game and outscored Waynesville 109-54 against a more than capable defense.
Taking risks is sometimes necessary and, even if it results in a missed tackle now and again, these Tigers need to rip the ball away from opponents.
Aside from turnovers, the Tigers showed something last week just before halftime. Parkview drove the ball inside the Tigers' 1-yard line, but was stopped five straight times without a touchdown. Questionable personal foul calls gave the Vikings an abundance of touchdown opportunities, but otherwise Waynesville stood its ground.
It takes an intense, resilient bunch of young men to stuff a 250-pound fullback over and over, and the Tigers did it.
Now, if only the turnovers would come.
Perhaps the team's best asset in 2013 has been its punt team. Give props to the special teams corps for giving David Hawk (Soph.) enough time for his rugby-style punts, which average 35.7 net yards per kick.
His leg has kept Waynesville ahead in a battle for field position several times this year, and for Waynesville to defeat the rival Bulldogs on Friday, Hawk might have to do it again.
Friday's game is scheduled to take place in Rolla at 7 p.m.