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PREP FOOTBALL: No. 3 Joplin upends Carl Junction 44-6 to remain unbeaten at 4-0

Lucas Davis

No. 3 Joplin was dominant on both sides of the ball en route to a 44-6 win over Carl Junction on Friday at Junge Field in Central Ozark Conference action.

The Eagles’ defense limited the Bulldogs to two field goals and 74 yards of offense in the first half while the offense built a 24-6 lead by the intermission to take control. Joplin’s defense one-upped themselves in the second half by pitching a shutout in the final two quarters, with the offense scoring on its first two possessions of the second half before adding a score late to put the game out of reach.

“CJ is a good football team,” Joplin coach Curtis Jasper said. “They made us work for everything tonight. At halftime, I told our guys we still have a long way to go. In the second half, they made us earn everything again. I thought we did a good job of staying focused, not getting frustrated, taking what was there and executing all night.”

Joplin’s Donovahn Watkins (68) and Draven VanGilder (58) corral the Carl Junction ball carrier in the Eagles’ win over the Bulldogs on Friday at Junge Field. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

In total, Joplin’s defense forced Carl Junction into six total punts, a turnover on downs and also forced two turnovers on interceptions by Luke Vieselmeyer and Gustavo Onate, while limiting the Bulldogs to 168 total yards of offense in the win.

“Obviously the players are executing at a high level and you have to tip your hat to the defensive staff—Coach (Nick) Reid as the DC, Coach (Alan) Linden as the defensive line coach with Coach (Parker) Howard and Coach (Michael) Juergens taking care of the secondary,” Jasper said. “I thought our practice this week was really good and I thought our game plan this week was really good. The kids did a good job of studying film, practicing hard and executing in the game.”

“We are creating a family this year on defense,” Vieselmeyer said. “We have had mistakes here and there, but we are all doing our job and getting everybody to the ball. Eleven hats to the ball is our thing. It’s a team effort.”

With the win, the Class 6 third-ranked Eagles improve to 4-0 on the season, while Carl Junction falls to 2-2.


Joplin’s defense forced a three-and-out to open the game and the offense rewarded the stop with an eight-play scoring drive that went for 54 yards. 

Joplin QB Always Wright had completions of 6, 12 and 5 yards, while picking up gains of 5 and 4 yards on the ground. Running back Quinton Renfro took the first-and-goal handoff from the 5-yard line right and broke several tackles before crossing the goal line to put Joplin on top 7-0 with 8:37 left in the opening quarter.

“It’s amazing,” Vieselmeyer said when asked about watching the offense complement the defense each week. “Putting in all that hard work and effort and then watching the offense do the same thing, it’s a win-win for us. Both sides are competing and both sides are busting their butts.”

Carl Junction benefited from Joplin getting penalized for roughing the kicker as well as a horse collar penalty on the ensuing Bulldog drive that ended with Xavier Perkins connecting on a 32-yard field goal to trim the lead to 7-3 with three minutes left in the first quarter. CJ quarterback Nathan Planchon — who was starting for injured QB Kyler Perry (hand) — had completions of 5, 11 and 8 yards to Dexter Merrell, while also completing a 10-yard pass to Dalton Mills to help fuel the drive.

On the first play of the second quarter, Wright found Renfro on the wheel route for a 25-yard gain that set up a 5-yard rushing touchdown from Wright on the RPO to give Joplin a 14-3 lead over Carl Junction at the 11:42 mark of the first half.

Joplin tight end LT Atherton hauls in a touchdown pass from Always Wright in the Eagles’ win over Carl Junction on Friday. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

Joplin pushed the lead to 17-3 when Joseph Ipsen connected for a 25-yard field goal with 7:04 left in the second quarter. Renfro set up the field goal with a 57-yard run down to the 8-yard line.

Carl Junction’s ensuing drive, which went 11 plays, started with a pass interference on Joplin to get the Bulldogs to midfield and ended with Perkins connecting on a 40-yard field goal to cut the Eagle lead to 17-6 with 2:44 to play in the first half. Planchon had a 9-yard completion to Ayden Bard, who had an interception earlier in the second quarter, and added a 7-yard run to highlight the possession.

Joplin took possession on the 40 with 2:30 left in the first half after a 58-yard return from Bruce Wilbert and needed seven plays to find the end zone again before halftime. Wright found Jack Stanley for 14 yards to start the drive and back-to-back positive gains from Renfro put the Eagles in the red zone. Facing a fourth-down and goal from the 3-yard line, Wright capped the drive by rolling right and throwing back left to a wide open LT Atherton in the end zone to put Joplin on top 24-6 heading into the break.

The Eagles started the second half as fast as they closed the first, taking the opening possession 65 yards for a score. Renfro picked up over 30 yards rushing on the drive, while Wright kept the ball to the right to cap the drive with a 15-yard rushing score.

“When you can score going into the half and score again out of the half without their offense taking the field, that is a huge momentum swing,” Jasper said. “Especially from a mental standpoint, that can be tough to come back from.”

Carl Junction drove deep into Joplin territory via the pass on the next drive before Planchon went down with an injury. Two plays later, Mills — the third-string QB for CJ — was picked off by Vieselmeyer to end the scoring threat. 

The Joplin offense needed just two plays to reward the defense for the turnover, as Wright hit Wilbert for a 16-yard gain before the two connected again when Wilbert got behind the defense on a post route for a 71-yard touchdown to push the lead to 37-6 at the 6:49 mark.

“Right before we broke the huddle, Always told me he was just going to let it rip,” Wilbert said. “He told me to go get it and that is kind of what happened.”

Joplin started the running clock when Chavis Coleman ripped off a 33-yard rushing score with 7:34 left to play to push the Eagles’ lead to 44-6.

Joplin defensive end Brayden Thomas wraps up Carl Junction quarterback Nathan Planchon during the Eagles’ win over the Bulldogs on Friday. Photo by Shawn Fowler.


Joplin gained 483 yards of total offense, with Wright completing 16-of-24 passes for 254 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and rushing six times for 43 yards and two more touchdowns to lead the Eagles. 

“Personally, my QB comparison to Always is Patty Mahomes,” Wilbert said with a smile. “He is pretty great. If you force him out of the pocket, I think he might be better than when he is in the pocket. It is great to have a QB who you never know how he is going to make a play but you know he will make a play and give you 100 percent.”

Wilbert caught three passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Atherton had four catches for 12 yards and a score. Terrance Gibson caught two passes for 50 yards.

“There are lots of toys in the toy box on offense, or chess pieces if you will,” Jasper said. “The offense, led by Coach (Jacob) Hewitt (offensive coordinator), who does a really good job of finding different ways to make the defense lineup for us to figure out what our reads are and where we’re going. That makes it difficult on defenses if you are unpredictable on offense.”

Planchon completed 12-of-28 passes for 94 yards, while adding 23 rushing yards on three carries. Tony Stewart had seven carries for 29 yards to lead CJ in rushing.


Joplin hosts Willard (4-0) on Friday, while Carl Junction hosts Webb City (2-2).


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1 thought on “PREP FOOTBALL: No. 3 Joplin upends Carl Junction 44-6 to remain unbeaten at 4-0

  1. It takes as entire team to be a consistent winner, but the Wright/Wilbert connection is something amazing. They seem to read each other. These two guys are surely headed for big futures. Joplin has many “stand out” players and great team spirit. Keep it up Eagles. The fans are with you.

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