By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS, Mo. —
The Webb City Cardinals are kings of Class 4.
The Cardinals put an emphatic stamp on the first three-peat in school history on Saturday, rolling past the Jefferson City Helias Crusaders 49-14 in the MSHSAA Show-Me Bowl at the Edward Jones Dome.
Besides marking the third straight state title, the runaway win also was the 45th consecutive for the Cardinals and marked the fifth crown in seven years and 11th in program history.
“I’m fortunate to be the head coach at Webb City High School,” coach John Roderique said. “I get to work with a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches. I guess I’m just humbled by everything. We’ve got a great fan base, we’ve got a lot of young guys who want to grow up and be Webb City Cardinals and have a chance to do this. We tell them ‘if you show up with great work ethic and great effort, anything is possible.’ ”
Like so many games in this three-year undefeated stretch, Saturday’s contest was all but over in the first half.
The Cardinals (15-0) scored on their first five drives — including three in the first quarter — and were never challenged.
Senior quarterback John Roderique — Coach Roderique’s son — was nearly unstoppable in the first half, rushing for three touchdowns and passing for another. And while his first score — a 38-yard run — made it just 7-0 with less than four minutes eclipsed in the game, it definitely set the tone.
It came five plays after Helias’ first possession ended when Garrett Buschjost was stopped for no gain on fourth down-and-1 from the Webb City 47-yard-line.
“It was pretty huge for the overall momentum of the game,” Webb City linebacker Nate Brown said of the early fourth-down stop. “I feel like the defense really stepped up to the plate there and made a play.”
It was an early indication that Helias (10-5) felt it needed all the momentum it could muster against the Cardinals.
“When you’re playing a team the quality of Webb City, you need a fast start,” Helias coach Phil Pitts said. “We felt like we had a quality drive going to open it up then we got stopped on fourth-and-short and then the first quarter just went downhill from there.”
After Roderique’s first touchdown run came a Helias three-and-out, a 28-yard punt and, on the next play, a 53-yard touchdown pass from Roderique to Kohl Slaughter.
The Cardinals then forced another Crusader punt, benefited from a facemask penalty on the return and then took a 21-0 lead on Roderique’s 14-yard run after a holding call wiped out a TD run on the previous play.
Roderique, fittingly, finished with 105 yards rushing and 105 passing.
“He did a great job of leading the offense,” Coach Roderique said of his son. “That’s been an easy transition for him, putting him in the shotgun and having him make reads. Everything we do is timing-based and read-based. When you have a guy making good decisions and making reads, it works well.”
Pitts — whose Crusaders have seen their season end at the hands of Webb City in four of the last five years — had even more words of praise for the younger Roderique.
“The last five years, we keep getting beat by Webb City and I think John Roderique is as good a quarterback as they’ve had in that entire time,” Pitts said. “He did a phenomenal job running their offense … he’s a heck of a football player. Give them credit and give him credit for their talent and ability, because they’ve got a lot of it and he’s got a lot of it.”
Phoenix Johnson, a senior running back, rushed 10 times for 144 yards and a touchdown. It was his second straight 100-yard performance in the Show-Me Bowl after going for 192 yards in last year’s win over MICDS.
His 54-yard touchdown gave the Cards a 35-0 lead in the second quarter.
Cooper Smith carried 16 times for 68 yards and a score while Trey Parra had 38 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
In all, the Cardinals racked up 361 rushing yards and averaged 8.2 yards per carry. They outgained Helias 466-265 after holding the Crusaders to 99 rushing yards and 166 passing.
Webb City — and its group of 30 seniors — wraps up its perfect season with an average margin of victory of 46-7.6. Their closest game came in a 30-15 win over Springdale Har-Ber, an Arkansas Class 7A playoff team.
And those 30 seniors get to leave the Webb City program knowing they have accomplished something no other class in the storied Cardinal history has done — win three straight state titles.
“We feel like we’ve got an outstanding team and we’re extremely proud of them,” Coach Roderique said. “These seniors, they’ve been here since 10th grade, they’ve been here for 45 games. This is one of those goals where it won’t hit me for a long time. It’s been a great run.”