The Joplin Eagles would start off the year with an impressive performance in front of their home crowd defeating Branson 34-3. Although the Joplin defense was projected to struggle with having to replace a solid amount of starters, that didn’t seem to bother them Friday night nearly earning a shutout.

Draven VanGilder said, “I think that shows how special this defense really is, with constantly being underdog and constantly being underrated. I personally like that, I think my guys like it as well. No one expects us to come out and do as good as we do and I think that us doing that and putting a beat down on them is kind of a testament of what we are as a defense and how tough, fast and physical we are.”

Head coach Curtis Jasper said, “We talked about or heard about all offseason from everybody about how we’re gonna have to replace nine starters and only got two starters returning and all that. Obviously coach Reed had them ready to go and hats off to Draven and Johnny as the two guys we got coming back who makes sure everybody knows what’s going on and are accountable for their assignments.”

Joplin’s offense didn’t come up short of a solid performance either putting up 34 points and being led by new starting quarterback Hobbs Gooch. He would throw for 297 yards and four touchdowns. Him and the Eagles are ready to keep it going.

Hobbs Gooch said, “Being able to find my guys I was able to work with during the summer and for them to be able to help me out, understand the playbook and to be able to work with guys who were on varsity last year just really helped me improve a lot from last year and were able to show that improvement on a Friday night.”