Odessa downs Oak Grove, makes playoffs
By Brian Spano PrepsKC Staff Writer
ODESSA, Mo. - Halloween came early for the Odessa Bulldogs Thursday night. In a Class 3, District 15 game that featured some tricks and lots of treats for the home team, the Bulldogs yanked the welcome mat from underneath the visiting Oak Grove Panthers in a 42-28 drubbing.
With the win, the Bulldogs, 5-5 and 2-1 in the district, advance to next week’s regionals to take on the Maryville Spoofhounds.
The game wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate.
Odessa’s stadium became a house of horrors for the Panthers on their opening drive when the offense was called for three false start penalties in a row. When the Bulldogs took over, quarterback J.W. McGraw hit wide out Emmitt Rickey on the second play of the drive for 90 yards and the score.
The rout was on.
“Usually I’m a rah-rah, fire ‘em up type of guy, but situations like this, there ain’t much you can say,” said an excited Odessa head coach Dan Joiner. “They know exactly what’s at stake, we needed a win, or we were done, and they definitely handled that well.”
The Panthers, who finished the season 6-4 and 1-2 in the district, did put up a fight in the first half and actually had a lead of 7-6 after one frame when Chase Tryon scored on a five-yard run, but with the score tied 14-14 and a minute to play before the break, Bulldogs running back T.C. Shippy scored the second of his four touchdowns on an 85-yard run and put Odessa up for good.
Shippy had scoring runs of nine, 85, 23 and five. In addition to that, he ran for nearly 250 yards on 23 carries.
“We were just trying to pound the ball in every way we could and then throw them off guard with a couple trick plays we had in there to get some long distance stuff,” Shippy said of the Bulldogs game plan. “Pounding the ball was definitely a key to our success tonight.”
Oak Grove put up two touchdowns late in the game, but by that time, the game was pretty much out of reach.
Rickey, who finished with three catches for 118 yards and the big score to start the game, knows that the taste of this victory is sweeter than most.
“This is the biggest game of the year,” Rickey said of knocking off their archrival, “Especially or the seniors. We look forward to this game our whole life. It’s just amazing.”
Advancing to the next round with first-year head coach Joiner hasn’t been lost on the players.
“It’s setting a foundation of what’s to come,” Rickey added. “And I think we’re doing a good job of it.”
Shippy believes the Bulldogs have been flying under the radar all season, and it’s a team that has been improving each week.
“I think we’re going to surprise some people,” he said about the Odessa’s advancement into the postseason. “I think it’s good for us to have a low profile right now, and we definitely made a statement tonight that we’re the real deal.”
This is a rivalry that dates back to 1917, and has been fairly even all of those years, but taking one in such a meaningful game does more than just holding bragging rights for the next year.
“Our guys know them from way, way back,” Joiner said. “They’ve played baseball with them, and there’s a lot of history as far as they know each other, so yeah, they’re definitely excited.”
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