After one month of the high school football season, there’s an amazing feat that’s happened in the Central Ozark Conference.

In the 10-school conference, six teams are tied at 2-2 both overall and conference: Neosho, Branson, Carl Junction, Joplin, Nixa, and Willard. Meanwhile, Carthage and Webb City are both unbeaten and Republic and Ozark are both winless.

There will be at least one team removed from the six-team tie, as the Neosho Wildcats make a trip Friday night to play the Nixa Eagles.

The Wildcats look to get back on the winning track after brutal losses to Webb City (41-0) and Carthage (49-7) in which opponents dominated field position, time of possession, and the scoreboard. Neosho’s predominantly two-way players have been playing a lot more defense last two weeks after strong defensive performances against Ozark (35-0) and Branson (20-7).

Meanwhile, Neosho’s offense did not generate a first down last week against Carthage until early in the fourth quarter and the Wildcats’ lone touchdown broke a nine-quarter scoreless streak that started with the second half of the Branson victory.

Key for Neosho on Friday night will be coming out strong on the opening possession, just like the Wildcats did against both Ozark and Branson.

The pattern for Nixa this season has been losses in the odd-numbered and wins in the even-numbered weeks, a trend that would favor Neosho if carried through in Week 5.
Nixa’s wins have come against the winless teams in the COC, 17-13 over Republic and 42-14 last week against Ozark.

Last week, Nixa led arch rival Ozark 14-7 at halftime and then erupted for 28 points in the third quarter.

Running back Sean Sample broke open a 57-yard touchdown run on Nixa’s first offensive play after halftime and Sample ran for one more score, then receiver Jared Spence reached the end zone on a run and Trent McFall returned a fumble for another score.

Sample rushed for 163 yards and four TDs on 10 carries last week.

Neosho and Nixa have played some memorable games in recent seasons.

Back in the 2015 season, Neosho earned a thrilling 35-28 win over then state-ranked Nixa at Bob Anderson Stadium, a Homecoming victory that class of seniors will never forget.

In 2016, Neosho and Nixa played two classic games that came down to the wire. both played at Nixa. In the regular season meeting, Nixa won 31-28 and then the Eagles ended Neosho’s season in the district playoffs with a 38-31 double overtime victory. Sample, then a sophomore, first made a name for himself when he booted a game-tying 50-yard field goal and he also caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in the double overtime win.

Last season, Nixa escaped Bob Anderson with a 21-20 victory, utilizing a late touchdown for the win. That game was highlighted, though, by Adrian Hitchcock’s 91-yard blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.

We should expect another memorable game Friday night.

Getting East Newton head coach Broc Wolfe his first win and breaking a 16-game losing streak dating back to the 2016 season will not be easy Friday night when the Patriots host unbeaten Cassville, a team which outscored its first four opponents 187-58.

Cassville earned a 62-27 last week against Seneca, while East Newton dropped a 64-20 game against Nevada.

Last week, Cassville gashed Seneca for over 600 yards of total offense and a whole host of touchdowns, but the Wildcats were not pleased with a second half that saw Seneca’s Trey Wilson return a pair of kickoffs 90-plus yards for touchdowns. The Indians had also an 80-yard scoring drive.

East Newton’s 20 points scored last week were the Patriots’ most dating back to 25 points against Aurora last season.

The Patriots have scored all of their 28 points this season the last two weeks, with their first eight points scored in Week 3 against McDonald County.

LAMAR (4-0) at SENECA (1-3)
It’s not been an easy season for the Indians coming off a 9-2 campaign last season, with losses to Springfield Catholic (50-42), Reeds Spring (28-0), and Cassville (62-27).

The Indians’ season certainly will not get any easier Friday night, since Lamar enters on a 53-game winning streak, the longest winning streak in the nation.

Barack Obama was still United States President the last time Lamar lost, a heartbreaking loss to former Big 8 Conference rival Carl Junction in the 2014 regular season finale.

Over 11 games last season, Seneca surrendered 167 points, including 42 in a loss to Lamar and 37 in a district playoff loss to Mount Vernon.

In only four games this season, Seneca surpassed its loss total and points allowed from last season with 185 points allowed.

Diamond’s three-game homestand continues Friday night when they welcome the Marionville Comets for a Southwestern Conference clash.

Since a 16-0 win over Ash Grove in the season opener, it’s been rough times for the Wildcats both defensively and overall with three straight losses against Pierce City, Lighthouse Christian, and Miller.

Marionville, meanwhile, comes off a 14-8 win over previously unbeaten Greenfield.

Other than a 34-14 loss in Week 2 against Willow Springs, Marionville has been solid defensively, surrendering 16 points in the three other games against Pleasant Hope (58-0), Lockwood (8-0 loss in overtime), and Greenfield.

The Nevada Tigers and the McDonald County Mustangs had vastly different results last week: Nevada entered the wins column with a 64-20 number against winless East Newton highlighted by a 50-6 halftime lead, while McDonald County took a 35-28 loss to Hollister in a game that went back-and-forth from stem to stern.

Sophomore quarterback Ty Thomas continues to be a big play generator for the Tigers even during their losses earlier this season, with senior running back Jaren Cowrie and senior tight end Trey Beachler both highly capable of breaking open for long gains and scores.

Meanwhile, opponents have seen a whole lot of McDonald County senior Oakley Roessler in the end zone this season, including back-to-back four score performances against East Newton and Hollister. Roessler, like Nevada’s threats, has proven capable of breaking a long touchdown run, from his 80-yard run in the season opener against Marshfield and his 80-yard run last week.

Fans should expect a good number of big plays Friday night.