FAUCETT, Mo. — The annual Battle of Buchanan turned out to be not be much of a fight, as a swarming Mid-Buchanan defense shut down East Buchanan and helped the Dragons to a 46-6 win over the Bulldogs on Friday in Faucett.
The win has extra meaning for Mid-Buchanan (5-1). Before last season’s district playoffs, the Dragons hadn’t beaten East Buchanan (3-3) since 2009. Now, they have two victories over the Bulldogs in their last two meetings.
Dragons coach Aaron Fritz believes that the football program is in the midst of a major shift in culture, this win just another instance of the team demonstrating their recent growth.
“The kids have worked really dang hard, they’ve bought in, they want to be better and they want to change our school history which frankly needs to be changed as far as football goes,” Fritz said. “That doesn’t change in terms of wins and losses, that’s gonna change by playing really hard and I think we’re playing really hard now.”
The Dragons started things off strong as quarterback Javan Noyes connected with sophomore Caiden Bailey on a deep passing touchdown up the left sideline within the first minute of the game, then hit junior Drew Russell with five minutes left in the quarter to put the Dragons up 13-0 after one quarter. They didn’t let up for the duration of the game.
Mid-Buchanan’s Javan Noyes finished with five touchdowns, with four through the air and one on the ground, as well as an interception on defense.
“His throwing has improved so much. His running has always been good but he’s just throwing the ball so much better now so you can’t load the box,” East Buchanan coach Kevin Bryan said about Noyes. “He’s proved that he’s an All-State quarterback and he showed it again tonight.”
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs couldn’t escape the pressure put on them by the Mid-Buchanan defense. Whether it was attempting to move the ball through the air, on the ground, or just protecting the passer, East Buchanan struggled.
Bryan emphasized the talent and speed of the Dragons front seven, as well as some early missed opportunities for his squad.
“Basically, they brought some kids off the outside that we just didn’t do a good job of picking up. They did a nice job of moving people around and coming from different areas, and even though we worked on it all week you can’t translate the speed they’ve got on their D-linemen,” Bryan said. “Then we had probably three or four passes that would have put some points on the board to keep us in the game early. We just didn’t connect, whether it was an overthrow or drop.”
Fritz’s game plan was to focus on the run, making a priority of stopping the backfield duo of quarterback Tucker White and utility player Owen Fortney.
Dragons defensive lineman Seth Branson says the Dragons have also made a targeted effort to play with more physicality.
“We’re just 11 hats to the ball, everybody flies around every play and get to the tackle. We gang tackle, that’s how it works,” Branson said. “We’ve picked up the pace a bit, and picked up the physicality. We knew we had to pick up the pace the last couple of weeks and do what needs to be done.”
He also spoke of rebranding Dragons football, echoing the sentiments of his coach.
“We’re really trying to change this program around, and I think we’ve done it,” Branson said. “But we want to keep taking those steps in the right direction.”