MOUND CITY, Mo. — When it comes to 8-man football in Missouri, no trophy case is as decorated as the one just a stone’s from off I-29.
Even before senior Dylan George stepped inside the high school for the first time just more than a year ago, he knew the tradition he’d be joining. His father, once a Panther football player himself, explained the history of the program and its six state titles before his arrival.
“He told me a whole bunch of stories and how good the school was,” George said. “I felt like I wanted to experience it.”
His father, Anthony, never was part of a state title team during his years as a Panther. George needed just one year to one-up his dad as Mound City claimed the school’s seventh state title a season ago in comeback fashion against Worth County, tying the state record set by the Tigers.
“As soon as I moved here, we won state. Second year here, we’re doing it again,” George said. “It’s pretty amazing. I’m just happy to be a Mound City Panther.”
All that stands between the Panthers and claiming a record eighth title is Southwest Livingston in today’s 8-Man Show-Me Bowl at 11 a.m. at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri.
In Mound City, the trip represents more than just a chance to hoist another trophy. What’s on the line hangs inside the school’s gymnasium and rests inside the trophy case adjacent to the court in the form of banners, signed footballs and team photos next to plaques from their nine trips to the Show-Me Bowl.
“It’s great,” senior Landon Poppa said of the team’s tradition. “We have a lot to show. Our history’s big, so we can’t let everybody down.”
When Taylor Standerford took over the program as head coach a season ago, he noticed a formula that was prevalent in Mound City’s state championships.
“That was one thing when I got her last year that I really wanted to focus on with these guys as a defense,” Standerford said. “When Mound City has won those titles, they’ve had great defense. I feel like last year we got back to that point. These guys have continued that, playing some pretty good defense.”
In five of their state title wins, the Panthers didn’t allow more than 20 points. While that wasn’t the case last year in a 36-32 win, there was still plenty to celebrate as Standerford hoisted a state trophy for the first time.
“Emotions were high for that. It’s one of those feelings not everybody gets,” Standerford said. “That’s what I want these guys to experience.
“I want these guys to go down there, play as hard as they can, and hopefully we’re still in the game and can do what we can second half.”
Having overcome two regular season losses, run through arguably the state’s toughest district and still be standing, George knows there’s no reason to leave anything in the tank.
“We worked all season for it,” George said. “We’ve just gotta leave it all on the field.”