On a muggy Aug. 22 night, the Thayer Bobcats were the host school for a South Central Association Class 1 and 2 jamboree.
A jamboree, in essence, is four teams having a live scrimmage practice against each other.
This year, Louis Bozman stadium was the venue, as the Cabool Bulldogs, Mountain View/Birch Tree Liberty Eagles, Willow Springs Bears and homestanding Cats, went head-to-head.
The Bobcats and Bulldogs matched up on one end of the field, while Liberty and Willow Springs competed on the other end.
From the 40-yard line, each team had 12 plays to run their offense.
Even if one team scored, the ball was still taken back to the 40.
If a team did not advance the ball for a first down, the ball returned to the 40.
In Thayer's matchup with Cabool, the Bulldogs were unable to contain the Bobcat running attack.
Tailback Josh Huckabee picked up some long yardage on a couple of end sweeps and quarterback Jacob Eckman connected with tight end Luke Martin to bring the Cats close to the goal line. The Bobcats then punched it in behind the blocks of Eli "Big 'Un" Martin and Cody "Ninja" Ary.
Coach Billy Webber's team is blessed with lots of depth this year, and for the first time ever, he has the luxury of three full squads of players.
And in this jamboree, he played all of them.
After Thayer ran its offensive sets, the Bulldogs ran their offense.
The Bobcat defense swarmed the ball, which created fumbles. Cameron Carey and Nick Allen covered a lot of ground from the linebacker spots and the interior defensive either held or penetrated for run stops.
After brief rest periods, each team switched opponents.
The quickness and precision of the Liberty Eagles was impressive on this evening.
The Eagles' run game was sharp and strong, and the Bobcat defensive secondary got burned a couple of times by the deep pass.
All three Bobcat squads had a pretty fair showing, especially for the first real live action of the year, but there were also areas that will need continued improvement.
With a beautiful red sunset falling over the Ozark hills, the teams switched opponents one last time. Willow Springs was up next for Thayer.
The Cats moved the ball down to the 8-yard line. The next Bobcat squad fumbled, but recovered. On the next set, they opened a hole and drove in for another score.
The big crowd of predominantly green-wearing fans were entertained with a taste of high school competition, plus the coaches got a chance to see their team in live action after a long summer of preparation. And the players got to go heads up with first-team competitors from squads they will face later in the season.
Next week is the opening game of the 2008 season, with Thayer traveling to Springfield Central Aug. 29. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Kickoff 2008, a preview of the upcoming football season for teams from Thayer, Salem, Highland, Cave City and Melbourne can be found in this issue of The South Missourian News.