The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

October 31, 2013

Webb City opens district play with McDonald County

Webb City High School is seeded No. 1 in the MSHSAA Class 4 District 4 playoffs.

But Cardinal coach John Roderique isn’t any different this week from other prep coaches throughout Missouri.

Roderique has been going to the movies.

“Leading men” from Roderique’s perspective include the likes of Jake Wood, Austin Grott and Tristian Buffalo.

Specifically, Roderique has been watching game films of the McDonald County Mustangs.

Chris Gwartney’s Mustangs (1-8) visit the Cardinals (8-1) tonight in the first round of District 4. Kickoff is set for 7 in Cardinal Stadium.

Webb City, which is ranked No. 1 in Class 4, is three-time defending state champion.

Said Roderique: “McDonald County is coming off a good win (20-13 against visiting Springfield Central). We’ve exchanged three game films. We don’t have any common opponents this year.”

The teams, once regular foes as members of the defunct Southwest Conference, last met in 2011 in a different playoff format with the Cardinals winning.

Added Roderique: “(Jake) Wood, the McDonald County quarterback and middle linebacker, is a good player. The Mustangs are physical and solid up front on both sides of the ball. (Austin) Grott, I believe he’s No. 74, is a good lineman.”

Wood, a 6-foot, 210-pounder, is a junior. Classmate Grott is about 6-4, 270.

Gwartney naturally has been savoring the victory against Central and hopes it will serve as a springboard to test the Cardinals.

“Wood played well against Central,” Gwartney said. “Seven different receivers caught a ball. He threw for more than 100 yards, including two touchdowns, and rushed for some 50 yards.

“Plus, we had interceptions from safeties Cooper Underwood, who also caught a touchdown pass, and Matt Forbes,” Gwartney said. “Forbes and Underwood are seniors and returning starters.”

Gwartney said that the only senior starter in the offensive line is center Buffalo.

“Webb City? They’re just Webb. They’re big across the line They do a good job with the option game. The defense comes right at you so hard it makes it tough. The linebackers run well.”

The McDonald County-Webb City winner faces Carthage (4) or Marshfield in the semifinals.

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