Bolivar’s end zone may as well be Fort Knox.
The senior-laden Liberators protect their goal line like it’s made of gold.
Bolivar plays for its 13th consecutive conference title Friday against Reeds Spring at SBU’s Plaster Stadium. The Wolves will need safecracking skills to work through a starting defense that hasn’t surrendered a touchdown from scrimmage in five games. Only Buffalo disrupted a string of Bolivar shutouts with a late touchdown in a 62-6 blowout against some Liberators reserves.
“We have played fairly well all season, we returned a lot to our team from last season, so we expected to know what we’re doing offensively and defensively,” Bolivar coach Lance Roweton said.
Bolivar’s Class of 2016 contributes eight starters on defense. Defensive backs Johnny Scott and Camden Burns have become known in the Central Ozark Conference for their offensive exploits, but their fellow seniors John Michael Cates, Dontay Sharp, Austin Kennedy, Joey Clark, Matt Holt and Hunter Wilson have all made contributions to a defense that allows an average of just seven points per game.
The seniority continues on Bolivar’s offense, where six starters are seniors. Four of junior quarterback Connor Sechler’s five main targets are in the Class of ’16.
Aaron Semek, Case Jones or Scott could be frustrated with having to share the football as much as Bolivar does, but Roweton said the top heavy senior class is unselfish.
“With this group it could have been different, because several of them on any given team would have been the complete focal point, but these guys are all really good friends and they are all winners to the core. At the very center of everything they think about is winning,” Roweton said.
The Liberators (7-1) look to vanquish Reeds Spring’s bid for an undefeated regular season. While many teams are looking ahead to Week 10 and the district playoffs, Roweton reports his team is focused on winning its 13th straight COC Small Division title – a goal from the start of the season.
“Conference titles are obviously important or no one would keep track of them,” Roweton said. “When you’re talking about things to accomplish as a team, the first thing you talk about is winning your conference, and then winning your district, and then a run in the state playoffs.”
While the all-time series between Reeds Spring and Bolivar tilts heavily in the Liberators’ favor, Roweton says his defense will be taxed by the Wolves’ triple option attack. Roweton spoke of his respect for Reeds Spring coach Lance Gosch.
“Their culture is great down there,” Roweton said of Reeds Spring. “I think Coach Gosch does a really good job in coaching option football and also coaching swarming style defense. They’re undefeated for a reason, it’s because they are good and hard to beat.”
Calm and calculated: Wolves will try to unseat Bolivar in championship
The Springfield News-Leader Game of the Week helps showcase one high school football game per week through the regular season. The Game of the Week is selected by the News-Leader staff based on an array of criteria including quality of play, rivalry, conference significance and playoff implications.
News-Leader Game of the Week
Reeds Spring (8-0) at Bolivar (7-1)
Friday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m.
Plaster Stadium, Southwest Baptist University
1396 S. Pike Ave., Bolivar