NIXA — Senior Eagles quarterback Reid Potts thinks Webb City might have been reading the newspapers leading up to last week’s game.
Everything written about Nixa only talked about how good it’s been. The Eagles were the story of southwest Missouri as John Perry in his first year as head coach had them looking like title contenders.
But Webb City showed why it’s still king.
Webb City came away with a 28-0 shutout while handing the Eagles their first loss of the season. A team that hadn’t scored less than 35 points the previous six weeks looked up and saw a “0” underneath its name.
Potts, along with senior defensive lineman Dylan Nelson, said that needed to happen.
“It motivated us,” Nelson said. “We need to keep our heads. When people are getting too cocky, sometimes they just need to be knocked down.”
Knocked down the Eagles were, but they got back up in a big way.
Nixa (7-1) bounced back with a 49-0 shutout win over Carl Junction (3-5) on Friday night in a game that didn’t even seem that close. The Eagles scored all their points in a dominant first half that also saw them force five turnovers while allowing just 48 yards.
“They played really, really, really good,” Perry said. “We were anxious to get back out there and get that bad taste out of our mouth. I’m super proud of the way they came out and played.”
The Eagles’ dominance came from standout performances all over the field.
Steven Ward II shined defensively while coming away with two interceptions — one of which came on the opening drive of the game. He also punched in the first points of the game on a jet sweep from eight yards away.
“He’s just the best athlete on the field,” Perry said. “He’s just a special kid.”
Ward had a sack on the Bulldogs’ next drive, which turned into a quick three-and-out. Potts quickly found receiver Michael Sportsman for a six-yard touchdown to go up 14-0.
Less than a minute into the second quarter, Potts hit Sportsman on a quick slant and the receiver did the rest. Sportsman outran the Carl Junction defense 47 yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Star sophomore tailback Ramone Green didn’t have a quiet night even though he didn’t have a single carry in the second half. On Nixa’s fourth drive, he had a pair of runs for over 20 yards before he ran in a four-yard touchdown.
Ward was a game-wrecker again after another Carl Junction three-and-out. A missed assignment on the punt saw him come free and blow it up in the backfield deep in Bulldog territory. Potts threw for his third touchdown of the game shortly after on a pass to Jerris Thornton.
Seven seconds of game clock later, Nixa was back in the end zone. Carl Junction tried to run some trickery on the kick return before it was blown up by Kolyn Eli. Ben Mills recovered the ball and scored on a scoop-and-score.
“That was a ton of fun,” Nelson said. “The boys were hungry tonight.”
Mills wasn’t done making plays as he came away with an interception on the next Bulldogs drive. With just under three minutes to go in the half, Green punched in his second touchdown with a five-yard run and his night was done with 132 yards on the ground.
The first half onslaught saw Nixa hold the Bulldogs to fewer total yards than points the Eagles scored while forcing five turnovers and scoring once on special teams.
“We have a lot of guys who can really run and who were really good on the back-end,” Perry said. “We have a whole group of zingers back there who has played a lot of football. They’re really athletic and they’re playing with a lot of confidence and that’s really good.”
Nixa will now take on perhaps its toughest challenge yet when it travels to Carthage (8-0) for a championship-like game in the Central Ozarks Conference.
The defending Class 5 state-champion Tigers haven’t lost in over the year — but the Eagles have a chance to force a tie atop the COC standings.
“We’re just going to need a really good week of practice and prepare as well as we can,” Potts said. “Then we’ll let the scoreboard decide.”
Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at email@example.com or Twitter at @WyattWheeler_NL. He’s also the co-host of Sports Talk on Jock Radio weekdays from 4-6 p.m.