Maryville and Lathrop.
If you follow high school football in Northwest Missouri and you hear those names, you instantly feel sympathy for whoever their opponents may be, because its likely they are in for a long night.
This Friday in Maryville, these two state title contenders collide in the Missouri Class 2, District 8 championship. In a match-up that feels like a heavyweight prize fight, it truly is the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
When it was announced before the season that Maryville was making the move down from Class 3 to Class 2 and that they were joining a district that has historically been one of the toughest in not only Class 2, but all Missouri classes, high school football fans immediately pondered on the possibility of these two titans eventually facing off.
“It will be a great championship environment Friday night,” said Maryville head coach Matt Webb.
His sentiments are shared by Lathrop head coach Chris Holt, whose team has been a part of a handful of big games the past couple season.
“Playing in big games is always a benefit,” Holt said. “It helps with preparation tremendously.”
While these two are not rivals, the similarities and connections between the two teams cannot be ignored.
The biggest connection between the two programs is Lathrop head coach Chris Holt. In 2009 he led Maryville to their first State Championship in 27 years before leaving the program in 2012.
His travels since leaving the Spoofhounds eventually led him to Lathrop High School, where he instilled that same culture of success, leading Lathrop to the schools first state championship appearance last season.
The Mules' opponent in that state championship game, Blair Oaks, is the next common thread between the two teams. The Falcons, who moved up from Class 2 to Class 3 before the 2019 season, provided both the Mules and Spoofhounds their most recent losses. They defeated Lathrop 54-0 in the final game of 2018 before defeating Maryville 23-14 to begin the 2019 season.
When it comes to style of play and dominance this season, the Mules and Spoofhounds are almost identical. Utilizing their own version of the Wing T offense, both units have been lights out this season.
Lathrop enters Friday’s contest averaging 51 points per game with their lowest point total being the 38 they scored against Lawson. Five times they have scored over 50 and Coach Webb knows his defense will have a tough task trying to contain such a versatile group Friday night.
“Everything impresses me about the Lathrop football team,” Webb said. “They are absolutely dominant in every phase of the game. They have no weaknesses and they have great players and great coaches.”
Maryville’s offense has been just as impressive this season. The Spoofhounds are averaging 47 points per game and have scored over 50 on four opponents. Coach Holt knows this will be the Mules' stiffest test to date because of how well the Spoofhounds perform week in and week out.
“They do what they do,” Holt said. “They are very confident with their schemes on both sides of the ball. We need to be aggressive on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”
While the offenses have been dominant all season, the defensive units have been even better. Heading into Friday’s showdown, Lathrop is allowing just seven points per game to Maryville’s eight. Neither team has allowed more than 25 points this season and both have three shutouts to their name. The old saying that offense wins games and defense wins championships could ring true Friday night, as the game will most likely come down to whose defense makes the biggest plays.
The most intriguing aspect of Friday’s match-up is that Maryville is closing in on 70 wins in a row at home. Known as the Hound Pound, the last time the Spoofhounds lost in front of their home crowd was 2010 when Chris Holt was the head coach, yet another cosmic connection to this monumental showdown.
Compounding the intrigue is that Lathrop, no stranger to playing a team with a long-standing streak at stake, ended Lamar High School’s seven-year reign as Class 2 State Champions when they defeated the Tigers 28-21 in Lathrop a year ago.
In easily the biggest game in Northwest Missouri, two of the top teams in Missouri Class 2 meet with a District Championship on the line. Both are looking to take the next step towards a possible State Championship, but their can be only one that emerges victorious from the Hound Pound.
Photo: Colton Nichols celebrates after a sack against Richmond last Friday in the Class 2, District 8 semifinals.