Hayden Ecker, North Andrew Football

North Andrew's Hayden Ecker (#24) carries the ball against Stanberry during the 2019 season. 

(Rosendale) -- North Andrew looks to avenge last year's postseason loss to Mound City when they take on the Panthers in a district semifinal matchup in Rosendale Friday night.

The No. 2 seeded Cardinals (8-2) took care of business in last week's playoff opener, an 80-24 throttling of Bishop LeBlond. Now, Coach Dwayne Williams says his team has all of their focus on Mound City, who is the defending state champion in Missouri 8-Man Football.

"They knocked us out of the playoffs last year in the district championship game," Williams said. "We were toe to toe with them until about mid-second quarter. We have talked to our kids all week that we have to get off to a good start because they are really good. They are a defending champ for a reason. They are talented across the board up front, in the backfield, on the defense, and they are well coached."

The Panthers feature a dynamic rushing attack with quarterback Landon Poppa, and running backs TJ Hopkins and Dylan George. Those three have accounted for 43 rushing touchdowns this season, according to the latest statistics on Max Preps. Coach Williams pointed out Hopkins, specifically, saying he's a big bruising back that is one of the top players in the area.

"With TJ, the big thing with him is that he's not only big and strong, the kid is fast and has good vision," Williams said. "As I've told our guys this week, Mound City does a great job with their quarterback sweep game where he is the lead blocker. He does everything. We've worked all week on defending that. If you don't tackle him low, he will definitely get away from you."

Williams looked back on the season as a whole, and says the group has had a fun ride in the 2019 year. However, the coach made sure to mention there's a lot more football to played with this team.

"We have 10 seniors and that is where it all starts for us," he said. "Those guys spent the entire summer working. We got off to a great start this season. We did suffer a couple of losses to a really good Pattonsburg and North Shelby team. Our guys have gotten better each week. We are kind of a split roster with 10 seniors and 13 freshman. There are a couple of guys there in the middle. Our seniors have done a great job of getting our freshman ready to play. They will be able to contribute for us Friday night as well."

Friday's North Andrew/Mound City district semifinal will be played in Rosendale, and KMA reporter Nolan Brooks will provide live reports during the Red Oak Chrysler Football Connection Show. All playoff coverage on KMA Radio gets underway at 6:20 p.m. Friday night. Coach Williams' full interview can be found below.