The way Nixa linebacker Eli Frazier sees it, one reason he and so many of his defensive teammates enjoyed such an exceptional debut Friday is the Eagles offensive line.
With Nixa featuring seven first-time starters and Webb City boasting a veteran, talent-laden offensive line, all the Eagles did was suprise everyone but themselves by blanking the Cardinals over the final three quarters en route to a 14-7 victory.
Frazier feels Nixa’s defense had already seen the COC’s top offensive line multiple times prior to Friday.
“I feel our O-line is better than theirs,” Frazier said. “It’s great practicing against our offensive line every day. They’re hard hitters. They make us better. They prepared us for tonight.”
Frazier was in on eight tackles, including six solo stops and lineman Aiden Sigman had five solo stops among his six tackles that included one TFL.
Other tackles totals of Nixa’s newcomers include tackle Michael Henegar with five, linebacker Anthony Ramey and cornerback Braden Parks both with four, linebacker Dylan Johns with three and lineman Peyton Covel and cornerback Randy Flint with two.
Cornerback Parker Mann, who had three start to his name last year, had three tackles.
The newbies played on ‘Senior Night’ in front of a Nixa crowd that likely was the largest since the home bleachers were expanded three years ago.
Their response to it all was absolutely admirable.
“Tunnel vision, stay in the game and don't allow any distractions,” Henegar said of his focus. “I was remembering who I am. You've got to stay confident in yourself and believe in your team."
“I took a deep breath before every single play,” Ramey said about handling nerves. “It was exciting. I was ready to play.”
Frazier thought even though it was the first start for so many, a sense of urgency came into play
“We went out there and embraced the fact this was our last game against Webb,” Frazier said. “We knew we better leave it all out on the field.”
With Nixa’s linebackers all being new, Frazier feels all questions about the Eagles’ second line of defense were answered.
“I hope so,” Frazier said. “We did good job filling our gaps and running downhill. I went out and played my hardest, got my reads and went as hard as I could for my brothers. As the night progressed, I was excited. It was a lot of fun, you couldn't have asked for a better night.”
No one’s night got better as the game progressed then Henegar. All five of his tackles came in the second half.
“Keep that motor going, don't give up,” Henegar said of his conditioning. “You’ve got to lock in and give it your best every down. It's all about getting your hands on (a blocker) and squeezing — step and strike.
“I can always improve, but it was a good night,” he added.
Henegar credited former Nixa defenders the likes of Corbin Speaks for serving as mentors to him as he rose through the ranks.
“I had people ahead of me, but it was great learning from people over the years,” Henegar said. “They always kept me pushing. I'm thankful for them.”
The newbies warned their best is yet to come.
“I got the starting-first-game nerves out of the way, I’m ready to go for (Week Two foe) Neosho,” Frazier said.
“Watch out for us now, Ramey said.