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      KHQA Barnstorm Tour: HANNIBAL PIRATES


      At one point last season, Hannibal Football Coach Mark St Clair confided that in all his years of football, he had never seen anything remotely like the injury epidemic that plagued his team.

      I believe at one point, his, for lack of a better term, Injured/Reserve list numbered in the 20's....

      But if anything, the Pirate Football boss has proven over the years to be a fan who can find the silver lining....

      Mark St Clair: "We fought through it. I was really proud of last years team for doing that. The positive side of that is that a lot of young kids got time on the varsity level. They got some experience and hopefully we can take advantage of that this year and use that game time experience to get them up to varsity speed as soon as possible."

      The Pirates had best be ready from Snap One of the 2014 season because theirs is as difficult and especially as front-loaded a schedule as exists in Tri-State Football

      Mark St Clair: "We've definitely stepped our schedule up a little bit. Had trouble finding a Week One game. We pulled some strings and did some maneuvering and finally convinced MICDS

      to get us in there Week One. They were in the State Championship three years ago and they are solid every year. They've got a great program. We go from MICDS Week One to Helias, whose been in the State Championship the last two years. So our first two opponents are teams that have been in the State Championship last three years so we definitely start off right into the fire. We are going to find out how good we are right off the bat."

      Speaking plainly, teams don't book these kind of opponents unless they think they've got a fighting shot. And there's your first Poker Tell that these Pirates are going to be loaded. And it starts with an Offensive Backfield good enough to bid good bye to Mitch Nichols without potentially missing a beat.

      Dylan Powell: "I believe it makes our Offense very tough to go against. We have a lot of people who can do a lot of different things. We have a lot of backs and receivers and quarterbacks who can really play anywhere and really give our some Offense versatility."

      Mark St Clair: "We've got some kids that can play Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver. We can put them in the slot. We can hand the ball to them. We can pitch it to them. We can throw it to them. And we have several people that fit that mold. Jerry McBride can play just about anywhere for us. We've got a Quarterback returning (Austin Kirby) who won eight games. Shemar Griffith and Wyatt King in the backfield that saw significant time last year."

      Jerry McBride: "Oh yeah. We are going to be a really quick Offense this year. It's more fast pace. We get to the line quicker. I am excited about it. I think we can score quick and score fast."

      Jerry McBride (on being a "slash" guy) "Oh I love playing different positions. I like trying out new things. Going from Wide Receiver to Quarterback to Running Back. It's a fun experience"

      Paving the way for all that Offensive Mad Science is an Offensive Line that will be rebuilt around Harrison Vessell and returning All Stater Dylan Powell

      Wyatt King: "Well, when Dylan looks at you in the huddle and he says "Get behind me I got you" it gives you a lot confidence to do your game and play football."

      Confidence in re-tooling a defense that was largely hit and miss last fall will come from a veteran Secondary.

      Mark St Clair: "With the injuries that we had last year, we weren't a great defensive team. We need to get back to being that great Defensive Team. We like the fact that we've got some returning Defensive Linemen with Tanner Sanborn, Dylan Powell, and Harrison Vessell up front. And then Linebacker wise, we think we are going to be improved. You go defensive backfield, we are going to start basically the same crew that started back there last year."

      Dylan Powell: "I think we are definitely starting to gel. As long as everybody just focuses on doing their job every play and trusting everybody else around them and just making sure they do their assignment I believe we will have stout defense."