The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 17, 2012

Webb City travels to St. Louis for Class 4 semifinal contest

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— Webb City vs. St. Louis St. Mary’s in prep football: A clash of the triple option?

Said St. Mary’s coach Jake Parent on Friday: “Webb City does it the right way and they do it very well. They (the Cardinals) run a split-back veer such as Lou Holtz had at the University of Arkansas. We started it some five years ago. We actually run the veer option out of a different set. ... the flexbone.”

Webb City (13-0) visits St. Mary’s (11-2) at 1:30 p.m. today in a semifinal of the MSHSAA Class 4 playoffs.

The winner advances to next Saturday’s 11 a.m. showdown with Harrisonville (11-2) or Jefferson City Helias Catholic (9-4) — they tangle today at Harrisonville —  in the 45th Show-Me Bowl at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Top-ranked Webb City, which puts a 43-game winning streak on the line, is seeking the chance to claim its third title in a row and 11th overall (the first came in 1989). Parent’s Dragons are in the semifinals for the first time.

Said Webb City coach John Roderique: “Our approach is that we have to play well to move on. Hopefully, we will play better than we did last week (in ousting previously unbeaten Sullivan 35-6). It would be awesome to get off to a good start.

“St. Mary’s is playing well on both sides of the ball and in the kicking game. They’re playing with confidence,” Roderique said. “They’re enthusiastic. They’re excited.”

Parent, who became the St. Mary’s coach in 1999, said the Dragons don’t face the triple very much in the St. Louis area.

“Webb City is coached very well. It’s disciplined,” Parent said. “They (the Cardinals) have good size. They have speed. It’s a very solid, all-around team.

“They’re kind of like us in more than a veer offense,” Parent said. “They keep hustling and playing hard until they hear the whistle.

“Our kids are humble, work hard and, more importantly, they believe in each other and their team. I’m not going to say we need to play perfect. But we’re going to have to play really well to beat these guys,” Parent told Chris Mazzocco in the Webb City Sentinel.

The defensive key for the Cardinals, Roderique said, could be preventing senior running back/linebacker Brandon Polito from having a monster game. He was a Post-Dispatch player of the week after the Dragons’ 37-14 quarterfinal win against Hlllsboro. Quarterback Kevin Hennessy, another senior, solidly directs the veer, Roderique said.

St. Mary’s losses, sandwiched around a 14-13 win against Duchesne on Sept. 21, were 32-8 at St. Dominic and 34-7 at Washington St. Francis Borgia.

Webb City held a light workout at Lebanon High School on Friday afternoon.

Webb City rushing leaders are Phoenix Johnson (1,284 yards and 23 touchdowns on 150 carries), fellow senior running back Cooper Smith (117-949-14) and senior quarterback John Roderique (67-656-13).

Roderique has completed 70 of 115 passes for 1,360 yards and 16 TDs. Leading receivers are senior Kohl Slaughter (30 receptions, 729 yards, eight TDs) and classmate Jalen Vaden (24-446-3).

Senior kicker Alex Easley has kicked 70 extra points and five field goals for 85 points. Johnson is the scoring leader with 162 on 27 TDs.