At the time of his hiring, Matt Webb seemed like the perfect choice to replace former coach Chris Holt at Maryville.
He grew up here, played for the Spoofhounds in the early 90's and had 15 years of college coaching experience, the past six as a defensive coordinator at FCS Southeastearn Louisiana.
It was hard to imagine there being a better fit or a more qualified candidate out there.
Webb's recently completed first season at Maryville provided ultimate confirmation that indeed he was a grand slam hire.
Asked to maintain what Holt had built over six seasons, Webb went above and beyond the call of duty.
He managed to take a team that finished 10-2 the year before and had won at least nine games the past five years and make them even better, a challenge a lot of first-year head coaches want no part of.
Maryville (15-0) won five more games than last year, took back the Traveling Trophy from Savannah, won the MEC title outright, the Class 3 District 8 title and capped off a perfect season by winning the Class 3 State Championship over John Burroughs 35-22 Friday.
In accomplishing every goal out there, the Hounds trailed in only one game all year and won of 14 of 15 by double-digits.
Their offensive and defensive numbers improved from last year, due in part to Webb's implementation of a spread attack and schematic changes on defense.
Webb's debut season ranks among the best a coach has ever had in Missouri high school football history.
An argument could be made that Webb was handed a ready-made state championship team and that this was the coziest of jobs to step into.
Then again, the Hounds lost two of their top players from the year before—running back Cole Forney and all-state linebacker Jordan Zech—to off-season suspensions, graduated all-state corner/wide receiver Tyler Walter and had to deal with the uncertainty of a coaching change and incredibly high expectations that came with a senior-dominated team and a No. 2 state ranking.
They overcame all those challenges to pull off the best season in school history, one that took root with Webb's hiring.
"Maryville is a special place," said Webb after Friday's victory. "We're the Spoofhounds, and it's the only one in the country. We're darn proud. To me, it's a special thing to be able to come back to a community that I was born and raised in. This victory is a true testament to the players and a community and a school environment. We can have a distraction in the off-season. We can have a coach leave. We can have a new guy coming in from Louisiana that maybe talks a little different, a little southern drawl. We could've gone in another direction or we could come together as a team and have each others back. I think that's what (this season) means."
Defense takes a stand
The need for crucial stops rarely ever arose for Maryville's defense this year.
But on the few occasions when it did, the Spoofhounds almost always came through.
Wins over Savannah, Lafayette Center and John Burroughs all featured instances when the opposing teams had the ball in the second half with a chance to tie or take the lead.
Only once did it actually happen.
In the Class 3 State Championship, Maryville thwarted a John Burroughs go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter that reached the Hounds 29-yard line.
Senior cornerback Tyler Kenkel came up with a huge pass break-up on fourth and six, coming over from his left corner spot to make the play.
The ball popped up into the air and fell incomplete, and the Hound offense wrapped up the victory from there.
Two weeks before against Center, the Hounds went 3-for-3 in getting stops with a one possession lead in the second half, then proceeded to build as much as a 29-point lead.
Maryville relinquished a lead to Lafayette early in the fourth quarter, but the Hounds stopped the Irish on three straight game-tying or go-ahead drives later on to gain a 27-20 win.
In the game with Savannah, Maryville's defense forced three, three-and-outs in the third quarter with their lead hanging at 10-7.
The Hounds went on to score three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 31-14 win.
About the only disappointing aspect of Maryville's state championship run was that senior linebacker/tight end Ridge Yount couldn't actively be a part of it at the end.
Yount injured his leg in the quarterfinal win over Center, forcing him to sit out the semifinals and the championship game.
He did get to serve as one of Maryville's three team captains in both games, sauntering out to midfield on crutches.
Yount was a vital part of Maryville's success on both sides of the ball this year.
He was one of the team's leading receivers and their top playmaker on the second level.
Junior Trent Nally took his spot at tight end in the last two games, and John Schenkel filled in at linebacker.
Amazingly, Yount was the only Hound starter to miss multiple games due to injury all season.
Nally sat out the team's opener against Lawson, but returned the following week.
A ceremony honoring the 2012 Class 3 state champion Spoofhound football team is being held tonight at 8 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.
It will last anywhere from 20-30 minutes and is open to the public.
All members of the team will be on hand, and Webb and activities director Paul Snow will speak during the presentation.
By Joey Falkoff firstname.lastname@example.org
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By Joey Falkoff email@example.com
Updated Nov. 26, 2012 @ 11:15 pm
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