Southern Boone County High School's Tate John runs with the football

Southern Boone’s Tate John runs with the football during a game against Fulton on Sept. 6 in Ashland.

Looking at Southern Boone’s 5-1 start to the season, it is clear that while the Eagles have played well and earned their record, Blair Oaks provides them with an entirely new challenge.

All five of Southern Boone’s wins have come against teams with records below .500. The Eagles’ loss to Hallsville was the only time that they have faced a winning team.

While Hallsville under new head coach Justin Conyers is a much-improved, talented and athletic team, Blair Oaks will be the hardest game on Southern Boone’s schedule all year and will take strong performances by multiple Eagles to propel their team to a win on the road against a great team.

The one area in which Southern Boone has an advantage, albeit only a slight one, is experience at quarterback . Tyson Smith, the Eagle’s starter, is a senior, while Dylan Hair is starting for Blair Oaks as a freshman.

Smith has had years working within the Eagles’ offense as a wide receiver, but this is his first year starting at quarterback. On the other sideline, Blair Oaks head coach Terry LePage said earlier in the season that Hair needs to continue to work on his communication skills, though his poise and confidence are undeniable.

While both teams feature dynamic skill position athletes, the biggest difference between the two rosters is in the trenches. Each team’s matchup with Hallsville highlights the contrast well. Southern Boone, facing a 20-0 deficit in the game, made good adjustments at the half and brought itself back into the game late. Ultimately, though, Hallsville left Ashland winners because the Indians’ final offensive drive was an exclusively ground attack that took advantage of a tired defensive front .

The Falcons, on the other hand, played Hallsville on the road last week and left no doubt who the better team was, winning 35-0.

What Southern Boone struggled with against Hallsville will be magnified because Blair Oaks poses a lot of the same challenges with even crisper execution. Hair has the ability to throw the ball at a high level while also being able to tuck the ball and run for hard-earned yards. Because the Falcons mix up the play-calling so well, Southern Boone will not be able to focus specifically on stopping any one aspect of the Falcons offense.

For Southern Boone to be the first team to knock off the Falcons in the regular season since 2014, the Eagles will need to step up and win a lot of individual matchups against a team that rarely lets its opponent up for air.

The game is at 7 p.m. Friday at Blair Oaks.

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