KENNETT, Mo. - It doesn’t seem like much gets to this year’s Odessa football team. The Bulldogs have taken care of everything that has been put in front of them and the semifinal contest at Kennett was no different.
After traveling more than 400 miles over two days Odessa looked ready to go from the opening snap. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 17-0 lead at halftime and never looked back earning a 31-14 win and a trip to the Missouri Class 3 state championship game next Saturday against Cassville in Columbia.
Odessa faced adversity in the first few plays as Kennett took the opening kickoff and in three plays were at the Odessa 30-yard line. The Indians would fumble the ball and Odessa would capitalize in quick fashion. Three Luke Malizzi runs and Odessa had a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes and 45 seconds left in the first quarter.
Odessa coach Mark Thomas said this year’s team does a great job of handling whatever is thrown in front of them and Saturday’s performance was an example of what this team is about.
“There was a lot distractions,” Thomas said. “But we handled it really well. The kids came out and played well that first half and we kind of got on a roll. I think our kids are just the type that if they can get things going in the right direction they play with a lot more confidence and then they are really difficult to beat.”
Odessa’s defense was stout all day. The Bulldogs earned a safety for their next score and kept Kennett out of the endzone the entire first half. The lead would grow to 24-0 until Kennett finally broke through with a touchdown with 1:18 left in the third quarter.
Kennett would score again with 11:00 left in the game to make it 24-14 but that would be all the Indians would get. Malizzi salted away the game with 9:39 left on a 46-yard TD run, his second of the game.
Malizzi would finish with 231 yards and two TDs to key the offense. Quarterback Jose Meierarend only needed to attempt eight passes but he connected on six of them for 96 yards and one touchdown.
The defense was the star of the game allowing just 251 yards on offense while forcing one fumble.
The Bulldogs will now play Cassville who beat defending Class 3 champion Trinity 20-0 in the other semifinal.