By Steven Kochersperger
Homecoming is defined as “the arrival home of someone who has been away“ and “the annual return to one’s school for celebration with other alumni.”
The stage was set Friday night. The alumni gathered, the student section was rocking as always, the community came out for the festivities and the pregame homecoming ceremonies went off without a hitch. Only one thing was left, the Big Eight football matchup between the Mount Vernon Wildcats and the Boonville Pioneers.
And while everything else during Fridays homecoming festivities went smoothly, the game ended in disappointment for those who cheered the Wildcats on as the Pioneers defeated Mount Vernon 36-13. “Frustrating,” that’s the word Wildcat head coach Paul Maier used after the game. “We feel frustrated because I know what we are capable of. We did not come out with the same fire and enthusiasm we came out with last week. We started of slow and we absolutely can not do that. We have to get that corrected.”
That slow start began for Mount Vernon as Boonville got on the scoreboard first. Pioneer fullback Andrew Arriago scored from the 3 yard line to put the visitors up 7-0 with 5:38 left in the opening quarter. It was all set up because of the great field position Boonville was able to get.
Field position would be a big part of the opening half as Mount Vernon continued to be on the negative side of the field position battle. “Field position killed us in the first half,” Mount Vernon head coach Paul Maier said. “We couldn’t get out of the shadow of our own endzone.”
And that field position put great pressure on the defense who seemed to keep coming through for the Wildcats in the opening quarter and throughout the first half. “I think our defense played phenomenal in the first half.”, Maier recounted after the game.”They (Boonville) took over the ball two drives inside the 35 and we kept them out. You cant ask anymore from your Defense”.
But the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to hold the Pioneers out of the endzone forever. With 4:44 left until halftime, Boonville’s Austin Castleman would scamper to the endzone and build the Pioneer lead. The Pioneers would get the two point conversion and went up 15-0. Boonville would score yet again , this time with 1:34 left in the half, as Spencer Woosley caught a touchdown pass for the Pioneers making the score 22-0.
And just when all the homecoming energy seemed to be leaving the stadium, a sign of life appeared for the Wildcats as signal caller River VanZant ran through a wall of defenders and threw a rocket to Senior Craig Dick who took it 57 yards to the endzone and put Mount Vernon on the board with 1:07 left in the half. After missing the extra point the Wildcats trailed 22-6 at halftime.
The second half began with a Wildcat drive that began in promising fashion as River VanZant threw to Tight End Brian Koch for 13 yards, moving the chains on the very first play of the half. But the offense would see the drive fizzle out and they had to punt once again to the visitors. Moving the ball seemed to be a struggle for the Wildcats Friday night. “I don’t think we played well up front. We just didn’t play real well on offense as a whole”, Coach Maier said. And not being able to move the ball down field would be costly to the home team. Boonville capitalized off the punt to move the ball down field and score yet again. Pioneer Andrew Arriago scored his second touchdown of the game on a 65 yard run from scrimmage putting Boonville ahead 29-6.
But the Wildcats would not give up and continued to work hard and get themselves back in the game. With 58 seconds left in the third quarter facing a Fourth-and-4 to go situation, the Wildcats took a timeout to set up a play. After the timeout, Senior Brian Koch caught a VanZant pass taking it to the 3 yard line. Two plays later it was River VanZant diving from the 1 yard line to score, pulling the Cats closer and making it a 29-13 game with just 1.8 seconds left in the third. But Boonville would put it away in the final quarter. After killing the clock most of the quarter and stopping Mount Vernon from moving the ball, Pioneer Andrew Arriago iced the game with his third touchdown of the contest. Arriago led the game with 200 total yards rushing and three touchdowns for the Pioneers.
The loss drops Mount Vernon to 2-4 on the season. And the schedule doesn’t do any favors for the Cats. With two highly ranked teams (Mater Dei and Jasper) coming to play at home, and a road game in Princeton, there is a lot of work to do for the Wildcats before the sectional opener. “The Big 8 and the non conference games we play are always tough”, coach Maier said about the road ahead.” We gotta make a decision. What do we want out of the season?”
The answer to that question will begin this Friday as the Wildcats play host to the undefeated Mater Dei Wildcats. Mater Dei beat the Bosse Bulldogs 57-14 Friday night. Game time for this Friday’s matchup is at 7 p.m..
Before the game the Seniors of all the fall sports were honored with their parents. Wade Mobley and Alex Collins were named Homecoming King and Queen and the homecoming crowd raised over 400 dollars for Riley Hospital. Way to go Mount Vernon!
By Steven Kochersperger
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