Week 3 Preview: Hazelwood Central (2-0) at Eureka (2-0) – Click here for the game …
Eureka will be revved up for its home opener tonight against Class 6 powerhouse Hazelwood Central. Both teams reached the state semifinals last season with Eureka losing to Blue Springs and Hazelwood Central falling to Rock Bridge.
Both teams enter the tilt with identical 2-0 records on the season. However, the Hawks will be without STL Top 30 and senior running back Kevin Batt, who suffered a broken foot in the second half of last week’s game against Lafayette and will be out for the season.
“It hurts because [Kevin] was a heck of a football player,” Hawks’ head coach Van Vanatta said. “We’re going to find out where we’re at this week.”
Batt, who stands 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, was the staple of Central’s offense last season as a junior. He was on his way to another promising season before going down. Over the last two weeks, Batt rushed for a combined 347 yards and four touchdowns, an average of over 10 yards per carry.
Despite the devastating blow, Vanatta will stay the course. Changing offensive philosophy isn’t in the fold.
“Even without Kevin it’s 60 percent run, 40 percent pass,” Vanatta said. “It’s not going to change up what we do. We’re going to continue to move forward.”
Senior Jordan Moody, who transferred from Francis Howell North, will replace Batt in the backfield. Moody has 20 carries for 160 yards to his credit this season. Vanatta is more than confident Moody can get the job done.
“He knows the playbook,” Vanatta said. “We’re really not missing a beat. It’s just going to be can we continue to keep doing the other things we do and keep our production up right now.”
Central, perhaps one of the most dangerous offenses in the state, utilizes its other weapons by spreading the ball all over the field.
Senior quarterback Mike Glass has thrown four touchdowns and rushed for two. Receivers Xavier Sneed, Jordan Croft and Dominique Johnson are also capable of making big plays.
By the same token, this bout will be no cakewalk for the Hawks. The Wildcats are poised, physical and downright tough to play against.
Headed by their 11 senior starters on defense, the Wildcats get after the quarterback and fly to the ball. They held Oakville to less than 100 total offensive yards last week.
Senior quarterback Brett Geisz is hard to bring down. He extends plays and has good speed when he decides to tuck it and run. Geisz threw four touchdowns last week and rushed for 59 yards. Receivers Bobby Saunders and Cam Nesbet always seem to shake off defenders and create space in the open field.
“They’re a good football team all the way around,” Vanatta said of this week’s opponent. “They fly to the football defensively … they tackle well. They’ve got a spread offense … they’re wide open. They’re very good at attacking defenses, hitting you where you’re not.”
Eureka High School will be packed come kickoff, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Click here for all the action …
Vanatta said it will be a fight to the final whistle.
“It’s a fun place to play,” he said. “They’re gonna have a huge crowd, home opener. They’re capable of hurting you. It’s going to be a hard-nosed battle. It’s going to be the team that makes the least mistakes [that wins].”