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Game Preview: Kirkwood Takes Spotless Record to Hazelwood Central

Kirkwood is 2-0 and has flashed a very impressive offense this season. The Pioneers play at 1-2 Hazelwood Central in their first road test.

After two dominant home victories to begin its season, Kirkwood has surged to No. 5 in the Class 5 statewide high school football media poll.

The Pioneers are yet to be truly tested, as they have routs over Rockwood Summit (36-7) and Seckman (42-7). A tremendous opportunity to show they are a legitimate state title contender awaits on Saturday when Kirkwood plays at Hazelwood Central (1-2) in a 1 p.m. showdown.

Kirkwood sits atop the Suburban South Conference, and features a well-balanced offense. Running back Ramon Alton has a team-high 190 yards rushing while highly-regarded receiver Mike McHugh has six receptions for 100 yards. McHugh also has a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown. Look for him to unleash with a big game very soon.

Because of the lopsided results, the Pioneers have thrown only 33 passes. Jordan Bishop is 11-for-21 with four TDs and B.J. Buckner has also played at QB, though he has lined up at receiver most of the time.

Meanwhile, it’s been a very uneven season for first-year Hazelwood Central coach Van Vanatta and his Hawks.

The Hawks opened with a lackluster 28-0 loss to De Smet, then bounced back to . But it was a major step back last week in a 40-3 loss to Rock Bridge-Columbia.

Vanatta will rely on his running game to control the ball and keep the potent Pioneers off of the field. Junior running back Dorian Williams has 201 yards on 37 carries, and also has five receptions to lead the Hawks.

Defensively, the clear standout for Central is senior linebacker Justin Ferguson. He paces the Hawks with 28 tackles, two interceptions and two sacks.

The Hawks are a combined 38-4 with two Class 6 state championships and three Suburban North Conference titles in the past three seasons. So, it is no surprise that Hawks fans are eager for Vanatta to get his tradition-rich squad back on track.

(Have some local sports news, or story ideas? Please email Patch sports editor Brian Doolittle at briandoolittle@hotmail.com)

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