MOKANE, Mo. - Tim Rulo and Trent Tracy are more than just casual coaching acquaintances.
Rulo was a varsity assistant on the Francis Howell Central football team in the 2005 and "06 seasons, while Tracy was a coach on the Spartans' freshman team. Now, the two will find themselves matching wits on opposite sidelines.
Rulo's state-ranked South Callaway Bulldogs - coming off a 55-6 pounding of Putnam County in last week's season opener - host Tracy and the Southern Boone Eagles at 7 p.m. today.
Tracy is in his first year as a head coach at Southern Boone after serving as an assistant at Moberly under head coach Jason Ambroson.
"When he went to Moberly, we just stayed in touch, we'd say hi to each other, and we'd see each other at coaching clinics," Rulo said after South Callaway's practice Tuesday night. "I was really happy when he got the (Southern Boone) job. I'm excited for him."
Rulo pointed out that Ambroson's Moberly influence on Tyler is visible at Southern Boone. Like the Spartans, the Eagles are operating a pistol spread offense and running a 3-4 defense.
"It's very much what we saw in Moberly, and we've competed against Moberly the last three or four summers," Rulo said. "We're somewhat familiar with that stuff."
Tyler was unable to come away with a victory in his first Southern Boone game last week at Ashland after a last-minute rally was extinguished in a 27-26 loss to St. Pius X (Festus). Following a 20-minute delay when the stadium lights went dark with less than a minute to play, the Eagles pulled within a point on junior quarterback Dane Bossert's 31-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Grant Anderson with :38 left.
Southern Boone lined up to go for the 2-point conversion and the win, but was penalized for having 12 players on the field. With the ball moved back to the 8-yard line, Bossert's pass was knocked down in the end zone to snuff out the Eagles' comeback.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Bossert completed 14-of-25 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Ethan O'Keefe (6-3, 190) had five catches for 86 yards and two scores. In addition to his touchdown catch, the 5-10, 180-pound Anderson rushed for 50 yards on seven carries and scored on an 8-yard run.
"(Bossert) gets rid of the ball really quick, he makes good decisions and then he's athletic enough that if his read's not there, he doesn't try to force it," Rulo said. "He does a great job of taking off and running.
"(Anderson and 5-9, 175-pound junior running back Laron Wallace) are just guys they're trying to get the ball in space to, and again, they're very dynamic athletes. They have big-play potential."
South Callaway - ranked No. 4 in Class 2 - surrendered only 153 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers in easily subduing Putnam County.
Senior linebacker Dylan Hare picked up a fumble and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown less than 2 minutes into the game.
Rulo explained the Bulldogs' defense will have to restrict the running lanes for Bossert, Anderson and Wallace, while also wreaking havoc with Southern Boone's passing game.
"We've got to really contain the quarterback, we've got to make sure he doesn't beat us with his feet," Rulo said. "Then we've got to make sure we shut down their running game with (Nos.) 5 and 8.
"Their passing (game) is just very timing-based, so we've got to disrupt that - whether that's with blitzes and stunts, or just our D-linemen getting after it."
Junior noseguard Jacob Cole (5-10, 220) will be the focal point of the Eagles' defensive line, according to Rulo. Anderson will occupy an outside linebacker spot, while senior Grant Sandifer (5-9, 190) and sophomore Tanner Smith (5-9, 180) will be inside linebackers.
"(Cole) gets after it, has got a high motor," Rulo said. "(Sandifer) is a solid player, he's very good. (Anderson) makes plays, he had a couple of sacks against St. Pius, and he brings it off the edge really well. He's very athletic, very aggressive."
South Callaway's first-team offense put up all 55 points and the majority of its 372 net yards (328 rushing) in the first half last week before getting the rest of the night off. Senior slot receivers Cory Hanger and Mason Shoemaker combined to account for five touchdowns.
The Bulldogs didn't have to throw the ball, with senior quarterback Troy Hentges completing all three of his passes for 44 yards and a score.
Rulo expects South Callaway's running game to set the table again tonight, opening up more chances for Hentges to put the ball in the air.
"Especially if (Southern Boone) is going to keep their safeties so far back, you've got to be able to run the ball," Rulo said.