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story.lead_photo.caption PJ Bledsoe of Eldon tackles Jack Creasy of School of the Osage during a game earlier this season in Osage Beach. Photo by Alison Schneider/Special to the News Tribune

Editor's Note: This story was published prior to Thursday afternoon's announcement of the Eldon-Boonville game being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

III

ELDON — The Eldon Mustangs saw all they wanted to see from the vastly-improved California Pintos a week ago.

But the Mustangs must now face a facsimile of the Pintos tonight.

Eldon will attempt to end their recent struggles against a potent Boonville squad tonight in Tri-County Conference action. Kickoff in Boonville is slated for 7 p.m.

The Mustangs are trying to snap a five-game losing streak after dropping a 59-13 decision to California. Eldon is 1-5 overall and still searching for its first Tri-County victory at 0-4.

After suffering a three-game conference losing skid, the Boonville Pirates produced a second-straight scoring outburst victory last week, blasting Versailles 54-6. The Pirates, who have erupted for a total of 109 points the last two weeks, are 4-3 overall and 2-3 in the league.

A week ago, Eldon watched California bolt to a 42-0 second-quarter advantage to control throughout the game.

"They were physical and played extremely hard; we knew that about them going in," Eldon coach Chad Hult said of California. "They came out and did whatever they wanted on offense."

In Boonville, Hult and the Mustangs must prepare for another squad that can score points in bunches. And the Pirates do it similarly to how California does it.

"The thing that stands out with them is they have really good speed," Hult said of Boonville. "They are very similar to California in what they do. They're balanced, but the ones that really jump out at you on film are their main running back (senior Andrew Wiser) and two receivers (junior DaWan Lomax and junior D.J. Wesolak), who they like to run jet sweeps with and get into space.

"The quarterback (sophomore Colby Caton) they like to get out in space and run things."

Wiser has rushed for 566 yards on 84 carries and 11 touchdowns. Caton has completed 53-of-93 passes for 893 yards, eight interceptions and 10 touchdowns and has rushed for 246 yards and four TDs.

In a balanced receiving group, junior Jamesian McKee has 14 receptions for 275 yards, Wesolak has 13 catches for 150 yards, senior Charlie Bronakowski has 11 catches for 219 yards and three TDs and Lomax has eight catches for 182 yards and three TDs.

The Boonville defense bases out of a 4-2-5 formation.

"They're very talented on defense overall," Hult said. "(Senior middle linebacker Lane West) looks like a man against boys out there."

West has 49 tackles and nine sacks. Against Versailles last week, West intercepted a pass and returned it 44 yards for a TD.

Senior linebacker Harper Stock leads Boonville in tackles with 56 while senior outside linebacker Evan Gonzalez has 50 and Wesolak, a defensive end, 43. Paced by West, the Pirates have totaled 22 sacks while intercepting seven passes.

"We lost three games in a row — two by a touchdown," Boonville coach Greg Hough said. "Since then we've been trying to get some momentum moving forward for district. We've started to turn that direction and the kids are excited."

There were some positives offensively from last week for Eldon to build on.

Freshman quarterback Hunter Hees completed 13-of-24 passes for 150 yards in his best passing performance of the season. Junior wideout Baylor Pearson caught 10 passes for 108 yards.

Hees had a touchdown pass of 7 yards to senior wideout Ian Birdno.

Senior running back Mason Kirkweg rushed for 68 yards on 19 carries to pace the Mustang ground game.

"Eldon does a good job up front and get the ball to different kids," Hough said. "We've got to be disciplined against them defensively, and we've had some injuries at linebacker. We've had to play an inexperienced sophomore there.

"Eldon is a little different than what we've seen the last couple of weeks. Their quarterback does some good things. We just have to do our job."

Hult said a couple of Mustangs will miss tonight's game with concussions. "But we're getting a couple back, so I guess we're breaking even," he said.

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