For a day, the Missouri Cyclones football team returned to Warrenton.
And playing Saturday at Black Hawk Middle School against the Evansville Enforcers, the Cyclones dominated in a Great Midwest Football League victory, 48-18.
Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement, according to Head Coach Troy Robertson.
“We’ve got a long way to go if we want to get back to where we were last year (playing in the national championship game),” Robertson said. There still is a long way to go with growing up. Thankfully it’s a 12-week season.”
Robertson said there are positions open on the team for the remainder of the season. Interested players should come to the team’s practices during the next two Wednesdays at Laurel Park in St. Peters (181 Driftwood Lane).
“I just want to get my team back,” Robertson said. “We’re going to make some changes in practice. We’re looking for some new blood as well. Some of the guys have worn out their welcome.”
It was a brief return to the town the team called home for the past two years.
“Drew DeManuele, who has been our host there, did a great job, the best with what he was given,” Robertson said.
However, the team is dedicated to its current home, Washington, and will come back for its final three home games there later in the summer.
The Cyclones (2-1) hit the road Saturday to play the Eastside Justice Saturday at Little Devil Football Stadium in Belleville. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
And July 7, the Cyclones play on the road again at Parkway Central High School against the River City Eclipse. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The next home game, to be played at Borgia, will be July 14 against the Illinois Blitzing Cowboys. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
After losing to the Midwest Chargers June 9, 15-10, the Cyclones were eager to bounce back with a win.
“I felt the running game was going good and then we went away from it,” Robertson said. “The passing game could be better. I don’t think the quarterbacks and wide receivers are on the same page. We’ve had wrong routes leading to interceptions.”
And that started with the opening kickoff, squibbed to Washington’s Evan Brinker.
The return set up a 32-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Mike McMullen to Jason Boyd with 11:35 to play in the first quarter. Will Rodriguez kicked the extra point and the Cyclones were up, 7-0.
The home team dominated play on both sides of the ball until Evansville took advantage of a bad snap to Rodriguez on a punt. Evansville players Reggie Thompson and Aquado Douglas got to Rodriguez, blocking the punt. Chuck Capshaw recovered and ran for the touchdown.
However, a two-point conversion attempt to take the lead was stopped and the Cyclones led 7-6 with 7:42 to go in the quarter.
The Cyclones appeared to score again, but Jeremy Gettis’ 19-yard scoring reception from Clayton Tunney was brought back on a penalty. That set up a 44-yard field goal by Rodriguez, who took advantage of having the wind at his back to easily split the uprights. The kick, with 3:46 left in the quarter, made it 10-6.
With 4:56 to play, the Cyclones took advantage of another chance. Daryle Jones ran in from two yards out and Rodriguez kicked the extra point to make it 17-6.
The Cyclones scored another quick touchdown after recovering the ball on the kickoff. Tunney powered in from three yards out with 2:15 left in the half. Rodriguez kicked the extra point to make it 24-6.
The scoring was far from done for the half. After a Cyclones defender slipped, Evansville quarterback Damien Dunning found a wide-open Ray Everhart for a 70-yard touchdown on the left side with 1:56 left in the half. The two-point conversion pass failed and it was 24-12.
Rodriguez kicked a 28-yard field goal with three seconds left in the half to give the Cyclones a 27-12 edge at the intermission.
Although the Enforcers received the second half kickoff, it wasn’t long before a fumbled snap turned the ball back over to the Cyclones, who took over at the Evansville 38.
That led to a one-yard run by Keenan Miller with 13:37 to play in the third quarter. Rodriguez kicked the extra point to make it 34-12.
Evansville’s punter Jamison Buck had been hurt in the first half, one of a number of players who suffered ankle or foot injuries during the game on the old rough field, and the Enforcers were forced to use a different kicker in the second half. Problems with a punt gave the Cyclones the ball again in good field position.
“We’ve got a lot of injuries on defense right now,” Robertson said. “Two of our starting linebackers are out and Skye Buckner-Petty is hurt, too. We had to use one of our defensive tackles on the offensive line because we weren’t getting the job done.”
However, a five-yard run by Jones was wiped out on a holding call and a fake field goal attempt didn’t work for the Cyclones. After three quarters, it still was 34-12.
In the fourth quarter, Jones flipped over to the defensive side of the ball, helping the Cyclones seal the victory.
“He was our defensive player of the year two seasons ago,” Robertson said. “I asked him to move back to running back this season.”
With 11:25 left in the game, Kyle Wagner intercepted the ball in the end zone to stop another Evansville drive.
The Cyclones were able to control the ball, marching down the field to get a 24-yard touchdown from Tunney to Jeff Kolkmeier with 5:22 to play. Rodriguez kicked the extra point to make it 41-12.
Evansville scored its final touchdown with 1:20 to play on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Henderlong to Everhart. The two-point conversion attempt failed and it was 41-18.
Evansville received a major penalty on the two-point conversion attempt and tried an onside kick. The resulting play gave Missouri the ball deep in Evansville territory and the Cyclones took advantage.
The Cyclones scored a final touchdown with 12 seconds to play. Tunney hit Alex Thomas with a seven-yard pass for the touchdown. Rodriguez kicked the extra point to make it 48-18.
After the kickoff, the Enforcers let time expire to conclude the 48-18 Cyclones victory.