District football primer: Prepping for Friday night’s semifinal showdowns


Hannibal all-purpose back Aneyas Williams and the Pirates will face Wentzville Holt in Friday's Class 4 District 2 semifinals in Wentzville, Mo. | Mathew Kirby photo

QUINCY — Spots in district football championship games will be claimed Friday night in Missouri, potentially stepping up a showdown between state-ranked teams in Class 2.

First, though, South Shelby and Bowling Green have to navigate district semifinal matchups with talented foes. Here’s a look at what to watch for Friday night:

Hannibal (9-1) at Wentzville Holt (7-3), 7 p.m.

Class 4 District 2 semifinal

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Scouting the Pirates: The teams have two similar opponents. Hannibal beat Troy Buchanan 34-28 in Week 3 and buried Mexico 61-7 in Week 5. Meanwhile, Holt lost to Troy 35-21 in Week 1 and eliminated Mexico last week 57-6. The Pirates are averaging 47 points per game while allowing just 14.5. Senior all-purpose back Aneyas Williams, the University of Notre Dame commit, has scored 31 touchdowns — 14 rushing, 14 receiving, two on punt returns and one on an interception return — and was a first-team All-North Central Missouri Conference selection on both offense and defense. The Pirates’ offensive line, which had three first-team All-NCMC picks, has paved the way for 5.8 yards per carry as a team and for junior quarterback Waylon Anders to complete 68 percent of his passes. Anders has thrown for 1,288 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Scouting the Indians: The highest scoring team in the Gateway Athletic Conference, Holt averages 37 points per game behind a prolific passing offense. Senior quarterback Ayden Sullivan has thrown for 2,328 yards with 32 touchdowns and three interceptions, while completing 65.7 percent of his passes (163 of 248). He has three targets capable of making big plays. Junior Kayone’ Thompson has caught 65 passes for 728 yards and 11 touchdowns, while senior Anthony Keller and junior Gabe Cunningham each have 33 receptions for more than 600 yards. Defensively, the Indians allow 18 points per game. Senior linebacker Conrad King has 82 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one interception, while senior safety Ean Crawford has 89 tackles with one sack and two interceptions.

Monroe City (8-2) at Bowling Green (10-0), 7 p.m.

Class 2 District 7 semifinal

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Scouting the Panthers: After back-to-back state semifinal appearances in Class 1, Monroe City is taking on a new role this postseason. Instead of being the favorite, the Panthers will try to be the spoiler. Monroe City has won five in a row following back-to-back losses to state-ranked foes in South Shelby and Centralia. The Panthers are young but dynamic in the backfield with sophomore running back Quincy Mayfield employing a burst that makes him a breakaway threat and junior quarterback Trey Smyser showcasing the ability to mix the run and the pass. Defense, though, is what will determine this one. The Panthers are allowing 22.9 points per game, but just 19 total points in the last three games.

Scouting the Bobcats: Bowling Green employs one of the most prolific offensive attacks in the state, averaging 61.2 points per game. Bleyne Bryant, who has verbally committed to the University of Wyoming, has been unstoppable. The Eastern Missouri Conference Offensive Player of the Year was one of six Bobcats to earn first-team all-conference on offense. The Bobcats also had five first-team selections on defense with linebacker Bryson Bradenburger earning EMO Defensive Player of the Year.

Clark County (6-4) at South Shelby (9-0), 7 p.m.

Class 2 District 7 semifinal

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Scouting the Indians: Clark County lost its final two regular-season games before rebounding with a 14-0 victory over Palmyra in last week’s district opener. The Indians lost to South Shelby 44-14 in Week 5 and finished the regular season with a 5-4 record. Senior running back Jonny Shinn has been the Indians’ most consistent back with more than 800 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns with three other backs each with 200 or more yards rushing. The Indians average around 100 yards passing per game as well. 

Scouting the Cardinals: By earning the No. 1 district seed, South Shelby received a first-round bye and used last week to rest and recover after going undefeated in the regular season for the first time since 2000. Like district counterpart Bowling Green, South Shelby has been an offensive juggernaut, averaging 51.6 points per game. Senior running back Kendal Hammond, the Clarence Cannon Conference Offensive Player of the Year, has rushed for 1,714 yards and 28 touchdowns on just 125 carries. He also has two receiving touchdowns. Senior all-purpose back Cameron Wiseman averages 11 yards per carry with 11 rushing touchdowns, while averaging 23.4 yards per reception with three touchdowns. He also has a kick return for a touchdown.

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