By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Sullivan, unscathed but virtually a new kid on the block, visits 10-time champion Webb City today in the quarterfinal round of the MSHSAA Class 4 football playoffs.
Kickoff between the 12-0 teams is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Cardinal Stadium.
Two-time defending champion Webb City was a unanimous No. 1 in Class 4 in the final-regular-season poll, according to the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. Sullivan was No. 3. Already gone are No. 2 Savannah and No. 4 Springfield Hillcrest.
Webb City enters the game with a 42-game winning streak and finished the regular season with 90 in a row.
Sullivan is making its eighth playoff appearance and was runner-up to Joplin Memorial in Class 3A in 1976.
Said Webb City coach John Roderique of the Eagles: “They’re 12-0 and obviously they’re playing good football. They have a lot of hard-nosed players. They’re athletic with good speed.
“They (the Eagles) keep coming at you on offense,” Roderique said. “They’re a power team. They aren’t overly big. But they have players who can move and block.
“They’re similar to Ozark (a Class 5 Webb City foe in the Central Ozark Conference Large Division) where they get guys at the point of attack and apply a lot of pressure on your defense,” Roderique said.
“We can’t let Sullivan control the ball,” Roderique said. “They like to control the game with their offense. That’s our philosophy, too.”
Said Eagle coach Pat Burke about the Cardinals: “The most important thing from our perspective is to find a way to slow them down. They run the ball extraordinarily well and are fundamentally sound. They haven’t punted much. We’d like to run some time off the clock.”
Added Roderique: “The wind could have an impact on the kicking game. It might even force a change in your offensive plans.”
Sullivan junior Justin Biermann, who’s scored 206 points, has rushed for 1,762 yards and 29 touchdowns. Clayton Mayer, a senior, has rushed for 1,047 yards and 13 scores.
Senior quarterback Adam Tiefenbrunn has thrown for 1,067 yards and 12 TDs. Adam Weiland, a senior, has 25 receptions for 580 yards and nine touchdowns.
Biermann rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries as No. 1 seed Sullivan beat second-seeded, fellow Four Rivers Conference member St. Clair 32-17 for District 3 honors. Tiefenbrunn completed nine of 14 passes for 122 yards.
The Webb City scoring (150 points) and rushing (1,245) leader is senior Phoenix Johnson. Cooper Smith and quarterback John Roderique, also seniors, have added 868 and 618 rushing yards, respectively, and combined for 25 TDs.
Roderique has completed 67 of 112 passes for 1,282 yards and 15 touchdowns. Leading receivers are seniors Kohl Slaughter (29 receptions, 696 yards, seven TDs) and Jalen Vaden (22-401-3).
The Sullivan-Webb City winner faces Hillsboro or St. Louis St. Mary’s in the semifinals.
Notes: Senior Cardinals Mason Kent and Seth Watson, injured against Hillcrest on Monday night in the District 4 final, remain “questionable,” Coach Roderique said before Friday’s practice. “I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they play,” he said. ... Burke said Eagles last made the playoffs in 2009 and were ousted by Mexico in the first round of Class 3. ... Burke said Biermann is a 6-foot, 180-pounder. Cardinals’ Roderique said his scouting report listed him 6-1, 190. “He’s a good player,” Roderique said. Biermann has been playing with a broken hand (and soft cast). Said Burke: “He played about a half in several of our games. He has decent speed, He’s done some wonderful things.” ... Eagles are averaging 47.3 points with three games of 60 or more points.