With freshman quarterback, Blair Oaks wins 41st straight regular season game
BOONVILLE - Boonville was the place to be to watch high-level, physical football on Friday night. While the matchup between the Pirates and the remarkable Blair Oaks Falcons was a contest among two 2-0 teams heading in, the story heading in was how freshman quarterback Dylan Hair, replacing his brother as the Falcons' quarterback this year, was going to respond in a hostile Boonville environment.
There are massive expectations on the shoulders of stout freshman Hair for a multitude of different reasons. Hair's brother, Nolan, led the Falcons to a perfect 15-0 class 2 state championship season last year. Hair possesses a lot of physical tools even as just a freshman. Primarily, though, every team playing Blair Oaks wants to be the first team to beat the Falcons in the regular season since 2014.
Boonville's strategy was to see how long it would take their pressure on defense to burst the pipes of a freshman making one of his first starts. The strategy had some mixed results; Hair made some big plays here and there, but on multiple occasions he was sacked, forcing second-and-long or third-and-long situations. Impressively, Hair, along with the Falcons defense, stepped up in a big way to put the Pirates away, 38-21.
While Hair consistently makes loud, splashy plays both running the ball and throwing it deep, his personality is nearly the opposite.
"If he's in a room, you're not going to hear him," coach Ted LePage said.
It's something that LePage works consistently on with his young quarterback because he sees it as an area that Hair needs to grow in. If there is one weakness to Hair's game, then that's it, because LePage raves about his knowledge of the game and his teammates laud his athletic ability.
"I think people underestimate [Dylan's] running ability," said junior Jake Closser, one of Hair's top targets as a starting wide receiver. "He makes good reads."
Closser was one of the primary reasons why Blair Oaks left Boonville on Friday night as a 3-0 team. His athleticism stood out on offense, especially during an outstanding touchdown reception in the second half where he out-jumped the opposing corner in the end zone and kept an iron grip on the football despite the corner being draped on his front. Earlier in the game, Closser made a tremendous, momentum swinging interception that he returned for a touchdown.
While a regular season loss is a foreign concept to any player on Blair Oaks' roster, the Falcons know they need to step up and make big plays to win games against physical teams like Boonville because every team gives them their best shot.
Because of the Falcons' stars like Hair and Closser, there aren't many teams that can line up against them and out-talent them. LePage said that teams come out more physical against Blair Oaks to try to do anything they can to throw them off of their game and a big reason for that is because of the Falcons' immaculate season last year. One of the things that LePage was most proud of his team for Friday was how physical they were.
This was no more evident than the final drive of the game, which started with over seven minutes left on the clock and ended with the Falcons in victory formation, kneeing the ball to run the clock out. When LePage brought in his biggest lineman, or the "Bobby Boucher package" as he calls it, at the end of the game, there just wasn't enough push from Boonville to make a stop and give themselves one last chance in the game.
Boonville does have a chance, however, of bouncing back for a win Friday as the Pirates play a 0-3 California . Blair Oaks, meanwhile, plays at Versailles, a team that the Falcons beat 37-0 last year, and hoped to extend their incredible regular season winning streak to 42 games.