One look at two numbers will tell you all you need to know about the seasons being had so far by the Joplin Eagles and the Neosho Wildcats, Week 6 opponents at Junge Stadium in Joplin.
Unbeaten and No. 3 in Class 6 Joplin averages 46 points per game, while 1-4 Neosho has scored only 40 points all season.
The last three first halves — against Webb City (34-6 loss), Carthage (55-0 loss), and Nixa (21-6 loss) — have been an epic struggle for the Wildcats.
Webb City, Carthage, and Nixa outscored Neosho 69-0 in the first half — Webb City 21-0, Carthage 42-0, Nixa 6-0 — during the Wildcats’ three-game losing streak.
In 17 first half possessions the last three games, Neosho managed a grand total of four first downs with one against Webb City, two against Carthage, and one against Nixa.
The Wildcats went seven quarters without a point — scoring their only points against both Webb City and Nixa in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Eagles scored 49 and 48 points in the first half their last two games against Republic and Branson, respectively.
That spells doom for the Wildcats, if the teams hold true to form on Friday night.
The explosive Joplin offense averages right around 440 yards per game — 269 rushing, 171 passing — and feature some of the best players around.
Senior quarterback Blake Tash has passed for 813 yards and most importantly eight touchdowns and no interceptions on 62 of 84 accuracy (completing nearly 74 percent of his passes). Tash has accumulated a quarterback rating of 135.7.
Senior running back Isaiah Davis leads the ground attack with 752 yards and 15 yards on 90 carries. Davis averages 8.4 yards per carry. Junior back Nathan Glades ranks second with 333 yards and four TDs on 51 carries and he’s also made 12 receptions for 181 yards and one TD.
Senior receiver Zach Westmoreland leads the Eagles with 36 receptions for 474 yards and six TDs. He’s a threat any time he touches the football — Westmoreland has a rushing touchdown, plus an interception return and a punt return for TDs, this season. In last season’s victory over Neosho at Bob Anderson, Westmoreland factored into all three Joplin touchdowns — one receiving, one rushing, and one interception return.
The Wildcats definitely have their work cut out for them in Week 6.
— The Seneca Indians’ Homecoming game Friday night against the Monett Cubs should go a long way toward determining the winner of the Big 8 Conference West and it will also have an impact on the seeding for the Class 3, District 6 playoffs.
Since a season-opening 41-26 loss to Springfield Catholic, a game in which Seneca led 20-0, the Indians rattled off four straight victories, highlighted by the previous two weeks against state-ranked Cassville (28-21) and Lamar (15-11).
The Cubs are eight points separated from an unbeaten record, with their close losses to unbeaten Mount Vernon (22-21) and Cassville (21-14). Monett knocked off Lamar the week before Seneca.
Monett and Seneca are currently third and fourth, respectively, in the district standings and the Indians have the chance to gain the head-to-head edge on both Cassville and Monett.
— The East Newton Patriots lost their first three games with two of them coming late in the fourth quarter, ended a 25-game losing streak, and then pushed Cassville last week.
The Patriots welcome Lamar, coming off its first back-to-back losses since 2012, to Don Johnston Stadium on Friday.
— The McDonald County Mustangs, meanwhile, welcome Cassville for the first time on their new field turf playing surface.
McDonald County earned a second victory overall and in Big 8 West competition by shutting out Nevada 35-0 last week.
Cassville survived that scare last week against East Newton by scoring 21 points in the second half and keeping East Newton off the scoreboard.
— The Diamond Wildcats, after 50-13 and 42-13 the past two weeks against Miller and Marionville, play their third straight road game with a trip to face the Adrian Blackhawks, who are 4-1 this season with their loss 36-0 against unbeaten Lincoln. Lincoln is the No. 1 ranked team in Class 1.
The Wildcats are in the No. 8 spot in their district, one that includes three currently unbeaten teams in Thayer, Miller, and Pierce City.
Week 6 Games
Ash Grove at Lockwood
Carl Junction at Nixa
Carthage at Branson
Cassville at McDonald County
Diamond at Adrian
Greenfield at Pleasant Hope
Hollister at Reeds Spring
Lamar at East Newton
Marionville at Pierce City
Marshfield at Nevada
Miller at Sarcoxie
Monett at Seneca
Mount Vernon at Logan-Rogersville
Neosho at Joplin
Republic at Ozark
Springfield Catholic at Aurora
Willard at Webb City