Here is a lookahead at area high school football games for Week 5.
Smith-Cotton at Smithville
The Tigers can draw inspiration not only from senior PJ Allred’s first varsity TD, which was celebrated by USA Today and ESPN’s SportsCenter, but his work ethic that led to the score.
Smith-Cotton (0-4) is off to its worst start since 2012. Several players thrust into first-time varsity roles or new positions are overmatched. They have been outscored 149-27 over the last three games.
Friday, the Tigers begin its toughest three-game stretch of the season on the road at Smithville.
Given long odds of a breakaway run, it could be easy to take for granted the opportunity to practice and play. Yet each season, Allred, a student with special needs, suited up for preseason workouts, practices and each game. He knew exactly what to do when his number was called.
Most S-C players, and their coaches, have had more opportunities to practice and play than Allred. So when their number is called — no matter the odds — they can at least match the preparation of one of their most loyal teammates.
Sherwood at Cole Camp
The Bluebirds look to bounce back from a 38-19 loss at El Dorado Springs with a home tilt against Sherwood.
Taking a loss in its first road trip since Week 1, Cole Camp (2-2) slipped to third in Ozark Highlands Conference standings. They look to celebrate homecoming against the winless Marksmen of Sherwood, currently last in OHC.
Highlights during record-leveling contest in El Dorado Springs included three interceptions for the Cole Camp defense and 90-yard efforts from senior running back Marshall Fisher (16 carries, 99 yards) and senior wideout Landon Baalman (seven receptions, 94 yards).
Last season, Cole Camp won its sixth in a row against Sherwood in a 42-point road shutout.
Sweet Springs at Lincoln
The Cardinals won with authority against the fast-rising Windsor Greyhounds, 40-14, further strengthening its status as the team to beat in the Kaysinger Conference — and the state.
Lincoln senior Jackson Beaman accounted for an absurd 511 yards, passing for 220, rushing for 291 and tallying three TDs each way. Parker Engles, senior, led the team with 17 tackles, followed by senior Tanner Bays with 16 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two sacks.
Since giving Windsor all it could handle in a 38-30 season-opening loss, Sweet Springs (3-1) has won three straight games by outscoring opponents 160-23.
Strafford at Windsor
Windsor suffered its first loss of the season to reigning Kaysinger Conference champs and Class 1 Show-Me Bowl runner-up, Lincoln.
While defeating the Cards would have been proud achievement, the Greyhounds (3-1) have little time to sulk facing another challenge at home against Strafford.
Last year, Strafford offered a reality check — a 45-6 loss — for a Greyhounds team fresh off an overtime contest with Lincoln. The Indians (3-1) roll into town having won three games by an average margin of 25 points.
Greyhounds sophomore Dylan Witherspoon led the team in passing against Lincoln, completing 12 of 22 attempts for 92 yards and adding 39 yards rushing. Windsor senior Jonah Roberts paced the Greyhounds ground attack with 79 yards and three TDs.
Tipton at Slater
Tipton hopes to snap a three-game skid on the road against the Slater Wildcats. Should the Cardinals (1-3) continue to mirror their campaign from last season, they stand to do just that.
Last year, the Cards ended a three-game losing streak versus Slater, 38-14. Friday, Slater (4-0) plays host having matched its win total from last season. They have beaten Polo, Midway, Santa Fe and Missouri Military Academy — winning the latter two via shutout.
Orrick at Northwest with Sacred Heart
The Mustangs host Orrick, in its second year of 8-man football, Friday after a road loss last week at Appleton City.
The Bearcats (3-1) were instantly successful after the 8-man transition, winning nine games and a district championship. Drexel accounted for their only loss this season, a 39-38 final.
Last week, sophomore Pierson Tichenor totaled 88 yards on eight carries, collected 180 yards passing and combined to score three touchdowns. Mustangs sophomore Nick Crosswhite caught two touchdown passes and finished with 79 yards receiving.
Northwest senior Cody Damlo and freshman Tanner Damlo each had four catches for 49 and 32 yards, respectively. Cody helped on defense with an interception, while senior Jonathan Slaughter, junior Mason Locke and senior Keaton Halsey led the team with seven tackles apiece.
Alex Agueros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @abagueros2.