MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Maryville High School football team remembers the feeling of walking off of the field in Springfield, Missouri, last year.
The Spoofhounds fell to Monett 27-18 in the Class 3 state championship game after a perfect season in 2016. This season hasn’t been perfect for Maryville, but the team is right back to where it wants to be, playing for the ultimate prize.
“We wanted to get back there with the group that we have now and prove them wrong,” Maryville senior Jalen Sundell said. “We’re ready to get maybe a little bit of revenge from last year because we all know what it feels like to lose a state championship. I think we’re ready to feel what it’s like to win a state championship.”
That feeling could come this weekend. The Spoofhounds travel to Columbia, Missouri, to play Mount Vernon for the state title. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday at Faurot Field on the campus of the Missouri Tigers.
Coming into the year, the team was ready to prove that even with many new faces on the field for the Spoofhounds that the football-rich tradition would continue.
Maryville lost two games during the regular season after not losing a regular-season game since 2011. It just gave the Spoofhounds even more motivation.
“People were doubting us,” Maryville junior Tyler Houchin said. “Twenty-two seniors, I mean that’s a lot of them. They were thinking that we couldn’t make a team to come back from that and go to a state championship but we’ve proved them wrong.”
A 14-3 win over Savanannah in Week 8 was the kick-starter the team believes. Maryville was 5-2 and was down 3-0 at the half before scoring two second-half scores for a 14-3 win.
It began the current seven-game winning streak that saw the Spoofhounds beat Lafayette, a Class 4 district runner up, Chillicothe on the road and undefeated Blair Oaks.
“We have a lot of confidence,” Houchin said. “Our coaches are the best in the state. They are really good high school coaches and they’ve prepared us really well. We’re really confident and we’re ready to play.”
Maryville coach Matt Webb has led the Spoofhounds to four state title games since 2012, which include state championships in 2012 and 2013. He’s familiar with all the added emotions during the final week of the season.
“The team that handles all of the emotions and handles the fanfare, the things leading up to it, when you actually look back at the game and realize who wins and loses, it’s usually the team that steps in and executes and takes care of fundamentals,” Webb said. “The first thing you have to do is not lose the game before you win it.”
The experience from last year also has helped this year’s team during the buildup to the Class 3 title game.
“We really need to focus in on the game and not everything else,” Sundell said. “Afterwards we can celebrate. I think last year maybe we were looking past the game before we played it.”
Now, the Spoofhounds (12-2) will meet the Mountaineers (10-4).
Similar to the way Maryville beat Chillicothe in the playoffs after losing to the Hornets during the regular season, the Mountaineers avenged two of their regular-season losses during the postseason.
“(Mount Vernon) is playing very inspired football right now,” Maryville head coach Matt Webb said. “They’ve had a great playoff run like we have. So I think that they’ve learned from their adversity throughout their regular season into a playoff run so a lot of similarities to what we had.”